With four wins from four and an ever growing player base Hackney Gladies were in confident mood ahead of their home game on Saturday. Unfortunately, the side's planned opponents have been having no such luck and so not once, but twice the side found themselves having to scramble frantically to find a replacement. And at no notice at all Millwall and Hampstead kindly volunteered to help. Sending five players apiece meant the Gladies weren't going to get the run out they'd planned, but two mixed sides took the field - let's call them Hackwall and Hackstead - and some terrific rugby was played.

With 25 players in total there was an in-balance in the numbers, and this told immediately. Hackwall had the extra player, and Hackstead took longer to switch on, Anita Oliver ghosted over from full back to open the scoring. From this point on the game would be tight and hard-fought, with nothing giving away as easily again. The difference between the two sides ultimately was up front, and the old rugby adage - that forwards decide who wins games, backs by how much - proved to be true. Hackwall's pack were more aggressive at the break-down and fought harder at the set-piece, with Gladies captain Emma Middleton forcing turn-over after turn-over and prop Ellie Bowden ensuring they were solid at scrum and line-out. While Hackstead looked ever-more threatening, with scrum half Charley Miller and fly half Sophie Campbell increasingly bossing the game, the inability to secure their own ball meant they failed to capitalise on plenty of strong running by centres Genevieve Barr and Lydia Meeson, floundering on the Hackwall pack's defensive wall. And it was Hackwall's pack that made the game's second try. Carrying strongly in the tight the side worked up field, and when Hackstead gave away a penalty close to their line Middleton was worked over. And Middleton was to play a part in the game's third and final try, as Hackstead attempted a break from deep the Hackwall back row forced yet another turnover and quick hands saw Anita Oliver in for her second try.

It was a difficult day, with things up in the air until last minute through no fault of Hackney's own. But thanks to Millwall and Hampstead ladies a good hard game was played. There were plenty of terrific performances, Middleton obviously, and Miller and Campbell were class as always. Perhaps most pleasing was the performance of the club's newest players, Sophie Pugh and Fiona Booth were utterly brave, throwing themselves into contact with abandon. While Liv Sumpter looked dangerous with ball in hand, beating the first defender time and time again. But WOTM was Flic Auer. Playing in the back row Auer's scramble defence was awesome. Four times Hackwall looked to have scored. Four times Auer, on her own, stopped them. She might not have crossed the whitewash, but that's a 20 point performance.