This weekend Hackney hosted London Exiles in the 2nd round of the London & SE Junior Vase, and like Hackney, London Exiles currently stand 3rd in their respective league, therefore Hackney knew this would be a very even game.

However from the off Hackney were put straight on the back foot, as Exiles played a tactical kicking game to pin Hackney back in their own 22, and even when Hackney countered with a kicking ‘ping pong match’, Exiles kick stepped full back would easily make back the yards as Hackneys defences looked ropey. With the pressure pilling on Hackney started to make silly mistakes with poor handling and very poor fringe defence around the ruck’s allowing Exiles to make easy yards and inevitable cross the line twice in the corner within the space of 10 minutes to take the lead.

With Hackney playing at 70%, Alex O’Hara gave the team a good talking to and told all to up their game in order to pull it back. However Hackney came undone again when Exiles pulled off a basic dummy, scissors, pop to fool the Hackney backs defence and coolly cross the line under the posts. This was shortly followed up by an easy penalty in front of the post for Hackneys poor discipline, to make the score Hackney 0 – 17 Exiles.

With Half time looming the Hackney forwards took control of the ball and drove exiles back within 5 metres of their line, and after a prolonged spell of intense pressure from the Hackney forwards with John Tully, Newton Mills and Glenn Prowse wearing down Exiles front row, Ben Chamberlain crashed over the line for Hackney first points of the game, converted by James Hardwick. With points on the board, Hackney continued to pile on the pressure and got their just reward when poor discipline from Exiles gave James Hardwick a penalty opportunity right in front of the post, ending the first half Hackney 10 – Exiles 17.

From the start of the second half it was obvious Hackney had now woken up and was far the dominant team winning countless line out with Will Bowers' line out ball finding it's man every time, and pushing Exiles back in the scrums. This dominance continued and with ten minutes gone on the clock one of the Exiles front row got sin binned for deliberately pulling down a Hackney maul. With 14 men, Exiles struggled to battle against an ever dominant Hackney forward pack, which also enabled the Hackney backs to make good ground with Ant Duttine and James Dawson continually testing the Exiles defence. The continuous pressure proved profitable for Hackney as Exiles started to give away penalties for their ill discipline, however Hackney were unable to make a strong lead with James Hardwick making 1 of 4 penalties to take Hackney within one converted try of a draw.

Hackney continued to battle on but left it very much too little too late, as Exiles with now 15 men continued to keep up a solid defence which Hackney could not break, even with the last 5 minutes of the game being played in the Exiles 22. With final whistle Hackney knew they had lost a game which they should have won, with the final score being ackney 13 – London Exiles 20.

Hackney now will concentrate on their league campaign as the host Harlequin amateurs this weekend, and will be desperately looking for a repeat of last year’s game when Hackney beat the 60 – 0.