A tale of two halves. For their last preseason game, the Gargoyles were facing Belsize Park's 2nd XV, a team that defeated them twice last season. Hackney knew to expect a tough opposition.

Although the first attack was Hackney's with Dave Huxley getting stopped a few meters away from the try line after a penalty played quickly, the first try came from Belsize Park. A scrum on the Hackney five meter line followed by some slick-looking back moves allowed Belsize to score near the corner.

Facing a bigger and stronger opposition, especially in the scrum, Hackney managed to take the lead during the first half using speed, solidarity and game vision and this allowed Hackney to score four tries during the first half. In defense, the forwards did a great work in the ruck as they have always outnumbered Belsize Park and they were even better in the mauls. Hackney's technique and commitment always pushed back Belsize Park. In attack, the two first tries were identical. A penalty in Hackney's half played quickly by Cormac who, noticing that Belsize expected a kick was not defending, ran through Belsize's disorganized defense, a few passes to Luke and Paddy later and Uzo gloriously finished two 60 m run by scoring twice between the posts.

A few minutes later, another penalty for Hackney in its own half played quickly by Cormac who offloaded to Ryan, Sam Tivoi then kicked the ball. Belsize's winger wanted to kick it back but the ball bounced under Paddy's pressure who scored Hackney's third try in the corner. On the kick off, Ryan added another try after some good runs by Uzo and Luke. In retrospect, the turning point occurred just before half time when a good back move initiated by Luke and Blake launched Ulrik in perfect condition for a fifth try which has been refused due to a forward pass. If he had scored, it would have been game over.

The second half was a complete different story with Belsize Park who attacked endlessly and Hackney who defended tirelessly. After Belsize's second try came a long period of total domination from Belsize, we saw last minute saves from Ryan, Uzo and a 30 m sprint from our prop Mike Harris who managed to catch the ball before Belsize's 12! The problem was that Hackney gave away too many penalties and the referee finally decided to send off Ollie Relph for ten minutes after Hackney gave away another penalty. Belsize used its superiority to score two tries and a penalty and lead 29-24. But Hackney didn't give up and found the strength to attack during the last minutes of the game, a ruck then a back move between Luke and Sam allowed Ulrik to score his first try for Hackney for its first appearance just before the final whistle.

The draw was deserved given the scenario of the game. On the negative side, the defense during the second half gave away too many penalties and was too static when Belsize Park decided to attack on the wing. On the positive side, the pack did well facing a bigger opposition, Cormac and Luke worked very well together and the backs showed interesting moves. The forthcoming season looks promising.

MOTM: Angry Sam who played his first game as a prop