It was on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon that the Griffins set to advance through to the next round of the National Vase.

The game started strongly for the home side as Chamberlain once against pressurised the restart kick in his now characteristic fashion. The ball bounced out of the ruck and was pounced on by L. Mills, putting Hackney in an immediate good field position with clean possession.

Hackney’s initial advances were rebuffed by a strong Old Cooperians defence that would hamper their efforts all afternoon, and the visiting side soon regained possession and had the opportunity to show the spectators what they were capable of in attack.

The answer, as it became quite immediately clear, was a lot. The Griffins struggled to defend against a few excellent runners whose Sonny Bill-esque offloading in the tackle was putting Hackney on the back foot.

Before long, Old Cooperians saw a gap out wide and put their speed man on the wing into space. Old Cooperians drew first blood.

As has been the emerging pattern this season, it requires Hackney to be punched square in the face before they realise they are in the ring. Their traditionally slow start was followed by their traditionally reinvigorated counter attack. Having been awarded a penalty of holding on at the breakdown, the Griffin pack decided to test the strength of their opposite unit. Catching and driving from twenty yards out, the Hackney 8 formed an excellent maul to rumble over with Glen Prowse, recently returning to the 1st XV following a sabbatical in the south of France, steering from the back to collect the points.

Yet Old Cooperians responded in a similar fashion, going over the whitewash a two times before the break. Hackney were performing well; ball was secured at the break down, the backs were functioning well. Line out ball, once again marshalled by the returning Will Bowers, was strong. However, the collective 15 simply could contain the three incisive Old Cooperian runners, and the home side went into half time with a scoreline they wished was reversed. Hackney 5- Old Cooperians 19

The Griffins began the second half well. Almost immediately scoring a try out-wide to bring the scores closer. 12-19.

Yet once again Old Cooperians responded using their speed men outside. An errant kick went bouncing, only to be punted long downfield by the Cooperian’s winger who collected over the try line to add another 5 to his team’s tally.

With the light fading fast, the Griffins kept up the attack, dominating the breakdown. N. Mills powering through the defence and debutant Andrew Sprague performing well in the centres. Hackney had by now suffered a spate of injuries in the backline that required a reshuffle. Ali Cheyne, who had stepped up to ten and executed well all game, and Sam Wilkinson were both requiring attention from the physio. Charlie Davies moved in at nine whilst Rowbottom, another returnee from an injury-enforced break, moved to ten. With all substitutes used, blindside flanker L. Mills moved to the wing.

Hackney now dominated possession and were camped on the Old Cooperians line until Chamberlain burrowed over in the corner. 17-24.

But as the light finally ran out, so did time. Hackney had performed and but for the bounce of the ball the game may have gone their way. But today was not their day, and this year is not their year for Twickenham. Eyes now turn to the league in the perpetual and ongoing hunt for Hackney glory.