Hackney’s second away trip of the season saw the Gargoyles make the short but entirely impractical trip to Hendon, a club nestled in the shadows of the soon to be new home of Saracens, but placed far from anything even resembling a convenient station. With the over-priced taxi ride safely negotiated, the team arrived at the clubhouse with their sights set on a 4th consecutive league win.

Two weeks prior to the game, the Griffins had notched a century of points against Hendon’s 1s, leaving the Gargoyles a tough act to follow. Hendon’s 2s had fared little better, struggling in their first 3 games and without a win to their name. Captain and coach demanded a ruthless display from the team, knowing that despite winning the first three games a number of chances had been spurned by over-elaborate or sloppy play that better teams would have punished. When Jonny O’Connor dotted down under the posts after 50 seconds for a 7-0 lead, making Hendon’s skipper swiftly regret his decision to kick off, it looked like ruthlessness could be the order of the day. Almost constant Hackney pressure followed in the first half – the pack was undersized against the Hendon 8, but with Glenn Prowse returning to the front row, never outmuscled. Go forward was provided by the whole pack, well marshalled by Neil Cunningham, with some phases finally being put together and some excellent passages of play.

The pressure told on Hendon, and James Abbot, in his second game for Hackney, completed a hat-trick before half-time – the second in 2 games for a Hackney back. With two penalties being added the Hackney lead was 32-0 at half-time, and with the team usually stronger in the second half, hopes were high for something approaching a cricket score to give the points difference a timely boost.

However, Hendon had other ideas. Perhaps spotting the complacency creeping into Hackney’s game, perhaps motivated by a half-time rollocking, Hendon started the second half how Hackney had started the first. Three times in 15 minutes after half-time Hackney found themselves under their own posts, and it could have been more, with only some last-ditch defending keeping Hendon at bay. Returning to a more territorial and direct game (aided by the introduction of Guy Halfhead in the centres) released the pressure and a successful penalty attempt took the wind out of Hendon’s sails, as well as revitalising Hackney.

The first of the second half tries was another first for the club – this time for Falco Carmo, bundling his way over from a few yards out. This was swiftly followed by a well-worked quick throw-in, the ball eventually finding its way to Matt Hanton, switching with James Hardwick to mark his return to action with a try. Chances continued to come and go for Hackney – O’Connor was bundled into touch a yard out after some fine work from Halfhead, whilst vice-captain Dave Huxley pulled out his best Ben Kay (2003 World Cup Final edition) impression with a knock-on from a yard out (rightly punished post-game). The final try came from skipper Hanton, with an oil tanker-slow sidestep confusing the Hendon defence enough to allow a jog in under the posts.

Another pleasing win on the road for the Gargoyles, though with a few scares on the way. Despite notching a half-century of points there is plenty still to improve upon before next week’s top of the table with Old Albanians – likely to be the toughest game of the season so far.

Solid performances throughout the team this week but special thanks to Glenn Prowse and Pete Walsham for once again doing stints in the front row (probably not for the last time this season) – for guys playing outside their favoured position they didn’t look out of place at all. Their front row partner Matthieu Arneguy had an excellent game – solid in the scrum and dynamic in the loose.

Man of the match: James Abbot. Another week, another Gargoyles hat trick, another man of the match. In possibly the most competitive position in the team, proved his worth with an excellent performance. In addition to finishing well, linked with the rest of the back three to nullify Hendon’s kicking game and return with interest time and again.