For the Fantastic Fours third game this season, we were denied the luxury of the twenty-plus players of previous fixtures. What started as a possible fifteen on Friday evening, dwindled to fourteen then twelve by the time we arrived at Newbury Park for the away fixture.

In true Fours' style, four of the players were new to the club, stepping up for a Saturday run out having been invited along by players' mates, and mates of mates etc etc. An interesting front row combination of AJ, skipper Mark James as hooker, and Aaron Williams (usually at 13) meant uncontested scrums were to be the order of the day, and with numbers down on both teams, 30 minute halves would hopefully mean a fast, intense game. With a younger squad, Hackney started well , playing most of the first twenty minutes in opposition 22, and Ravens were frequently forced to kick to relieve pressure.

Fours' lineout relied on experienced locks Andy de Vries and Rob Duncan making their debut with the club, both performing manfully, providing big hits and powering through Ravens' defence, setting up to let scrum half Andy Spinks and James Baron at 10 ship the ball out to our speedy backs. Ravens' veteran players however managed some deceptively nifty moves and Fours were caught out missing tackles. Half time saw the score at a try a piece, after Andy Spinks caught his own up and under kicked from the back of a ruck.

The second half saw Ravens come back with an extra (big) player added as late arrival, with Fours' expected other prop not having arrived at the ground from work. Ravens started the half stronger and Fours mixed fitness was beginning to struggle up front, relying on powerful centre Sam Yauner and his speedy outside man Jon Silcock to make the running. However, Fours were not to be denied another score as Rob Duncan took advantage of Andy Spinks' fumble to gather and make a dash for the try line. Ravens' repeated offside at the ruck and handling on the ground proved too much for Spinks who saw red and stamped the offender. Both players were red carded, as the Raven threw a punch as Andy walked away. Fullback Paul Holland also making his debut moved in at 10, with James Baron now at 9, and wingers George Noga and Loic Dahan providing cover as outside backs. Ravens managed to sneak in a converted try to seal the game 17 - 14.

Ravens proved hospitable in the bar post-match, with several jugs being passed round. Thanks to the Pentecost family for providing coaching and moral/medical/hydration support.

MOTM: Rob Duncan for big hits, good running and scoring Hackney's second try.