A beautiful summer day at Springhill saw Hackney Gladies get off to a strong start against the enthusiastic Millwall. The first game of pre-season for all and the first game of rugby for some, and yet the Gladies came out as a unit, prepared to dampen the enthusiasm of their opponents, despite having to give them key players to fill out their team. Millwall kicked off for the start of the game.

With the game not quite 2 minutes old Hackney opened the scoring, with a great pattern of play started by the now seasoned Sarah Lawrence who carried the ball well into contact. A quick ball from Fly Half Sophie Campbell set first time Gladie Kate Langham up to open the scoring. 

For the next ten minutes the competition struggled to move from the halfway line,with Prop Emma Middleton making strong runs,but Millwall putting in some good tackles. Millwall backs were able to escape the grasp of our pack only to be stopped in their tracks by fierce fullback Genevieve Barr.However,with play getting scrappy at the breakdown, enough was enough for Half Back Campbell, who took it upon herself to get the ball out of the mêlée,breaking free and scoring under the posts. 

The first half continued in a similar vain, next with captain Juliette Van Wessem shipping the ball wide to Scrum Half Flic Aeur to score under the posts. The back play of the match came from Campbell and Langham minutes later, who performed an effortless, near-perfect switch to put Langham under the posts for her second. Millwall looked nearly defeated as Middleton battered down their defence time after time, just falling short of the try line. Thankfully, Josie Dietrich, playing superbly in her final game for the Gladies, was on hand to finish off and score her first and last try of the season. Possible,the last great bit of play from Hackney came just before half time,from Aishling Butler, playing her first game for us. Picking up on a Millwall error, Butler effortlessly weaved through what remained of the oppositions defence, striding down the touchline she looked set for her first try of her Hackney career, only to be told that she had brushed the touchline. 

The half ended at a comfortable 45-0 - time to make things a bit harder. Off came veterans Campbell, Middleton and Barr, who gallantly pulled on red jerseys. Positions were switched and the real test began.Unfortunately, perhaps lacking a bit of leadership and with bodies aching, Hackney dozed through the first ten minutes. Tackles were missed and penalties were given away far too easily. An energised Millwall managed to scrap their way over our line twice after winning scrums on our 5 metre line. Further tries came for Millwall from breakaway runs from Hackney stand ins Barr and Middleton, who could't help but take advantage of a disorganised Hackney defence. 

Thankfully, the Gladies pulled things together in the last 10minutes, with the likes of Lydia Meeson and Helen Doig taking charge out back and Sarah Williams and Fiona Booth rucking together at the break downs. Meeson made a couple of good breaks, putting Aishling and Langham into space to score the final two tries of the match. However,WOTM went to forward Sarah Lawrence,who worked tirelessly throughout the match despite taking on a new position. She rucked cleanly,carried the ball with confidence and guided newer players around the pitch like a seasoned rugby player-a sure candidate for most improved player 2012.

A definite game of two halves, but good preparation for the far tougher friendly against Hammersmith coming up next weekend.