After three weeks of inactivity for the Gargoyles, a return to rugby – and winning ways – arrived with a thoroughly professional victory over a spirited Letchworth side. Snow, frozen pitches and unwilling opposition had conspired to postpone the opportunity to put the memory of the defeat to Hemel Hempstead out of their system, and the team was itching to get back on track.

In the absence of coach Fred Pentecost the Gargoyles’ warm up was not as structured as normal, resulting in strong words from skipper Luke Hearn and pack leader Dave Huxley, reminding the team that 2nd place in the league was still within their hands. Conditions were muddy and windy – much to the dismay of anyone with a shirt number higher than 10, this was not a day for fluid running rugby.

As kick-off approached the rain started to lash down in East London, making the toss a good one to win. Luke duly obliged, allowing Hackney first use of the strong wind. Long kicks from the half-backs into the corners combined with some excellent chasing from Arif and Johnny forced the Letchworth back 3 into a number of errors and good field position for Hackney. Good work from the Hackney pack forced a series of penalties in kicking range and the scoreboard ticked over: 9-0 to Hackney in the first quarter.

Pressure began to mount on Letchworth as the forwards continued to make holes in the visitors’ defence, with Glenn, Paddy and Guy making yards at will. Phases were strung together resulting in Johnny stifling his winger’s instinct and unselfishly allowing Guy a run in to the corner for the first try of the game, converted from the touchline. More barrelling runs from the pack allowed a rare opportunity of quick ball for the backs, with a giant gap in the Letchworth backs opening up to allow Matt to sprint through for another converted try. A third try came soon after, with Paddy showing the benefit of 3 months’ enforced rest by outstripping the Letchworth winger and touching down under the posts.

A half-time lead of 30-0, coupled with worsening conditions underfoot, led to an increasingly scrappy game. Although Hackney remained on top with another penalty being converted, poor decision-making and a breakdown of communication in the Letchworth 22 led to a good counter and field position. Letchworth’s strong scrum wheeled and Hackney’s line was finally breached. Defence was excellent throughout, with the back row and centres in particular repelling everything thrown at them. The scoring was completed with a 5th penalty for Matt, 8 from 8 kicks for the day.

All in all, not a game for rugby purists but a job very well done for Hackney, who hold their promotion destiny in their own hands with one game of the season to go. Revenge against early-season conquerors Enfield Ignatians is now all that stands between the Gargoyles and a guaranteed second place in Merit 4.

MOTM - Glenn Prowse

A huge game in the tight and loose, part of a massive forward effort that held their own and at times dominated a far larger Letchworth pack. Always looking for work and made yards whenever he had ball in hand.