A definite game of two halves this weekend for the Gladies, playing away to an established Chelmsford side in their last pre season game. Having lost narrowly to an experienced Hammersmith team in the previous friendly, Hackney were confident that they could compete this weekend. The game couldn't have started any better, with centre Emma Wade putting in a huge first tackle sending the ball loose into Fly half Sophie Campbell's hands. Despite a valiant effort from a giant Chelmsford prop on the chase Campbell was able to weave her way through an unsuspecting home defence to score under the posts. Taking the early lead gave Hackney the a huge confidence boost. For once, the less experienced side seemed calm and in control. The scrummaging was tight and strong, Hackney able to secure the ball despite being the visibly smaller pack, and the backs played with flare and ease in their third game with relatively the same line up. In the back row, flankers Meeson and Doig put in standout performances, hitting ruck after ruck securing ball after ball for debutant scrum half Tonje Lyssand. Meeson's energy and enthusiasm was unwavering to such an extent that she became a target for the increasingly frustrated Chelmsford forwards, who at one point left her shirtless after a particularly nasty attempt to dampen her spirit! 2 more tries followed in relatively quick succession, the first a solo try from scrum half Lyssand who sniped round a disorganised ruck before swallow diving over the try line. The next two were textbook tries from surprisingly successful Hackney line outs. A clean ball off the top from 8 Chantelle Willis set the backs off to make a mockery of the Chelmsford defence. A loop from Campbell and a casual switch with newbie 15 Bryony Simmons put 13 Wade into a perfect try scoring position. She finished it beautifully just within Campbell's kicking range, making it 21- 5 after just 20 minutes. Hackney deserved the lead at half-time, but were disappointed to concede in the closing minutes of the half, giving Chelmsford the momentum. With the wind and incline in their favour at the start of the second, the home side began with a renewed confidence and reenergised team. Although both teams were fatigued, it was the Hackney defence that took the biggest beating. Chelmsford were able to punch holes in the weary Gladies line and 15 Simmons was forced to clear the ball under pressure on numerous occasions to save a complete turn around in the fortunes of the Essex squad. Hackney were able to fend off the assault on their try line for ten minutes before Chelmsford broke through once, twice then three times in a matter of minutes. Perhaps inevitably, the more experienced side began to destroy the Gladies in the scrum and out run them in the backs. With the ball now firmly in the wrong court and the score line at a tantalising 26-29 a moment of brilliance was needed to give Hackney the lift that was so desperately needed. And from Emma Wade it came. Scrum down, Hackney ball. Another great bit of ball handling between 10, 12 and 15 put Wade into space with a lot of work still to do. Having shrugged off one tackle and side stepped the second she had just the fullback to beat, which she did with ease leaving just enough in her legs to compete a marathon hours after the match! Converted by Campbell - 33-29 to the Gladies. 5 minutes to go and the claws were out; Chelmsford were more determined than ever not to be found wanting on home soil. Fantastic breaks from debutant Chloe Laws, newbie Chantelle Willis and experienced Gladie Fee Booth were shut down by a resilient defence. Unfortunately, Hackney were unable to do the same, crumbling in the last minutes to a team that were ultimately fitter and more experienced at closing out victories. The last try of the game was by no means a thing of beauty, but it got the job done. Chelmsford sent perhaps the biggest player burrowing over the line to secure the 36-33 victory. A harsh loss for the Gladies, but a lot of positives to take into the opening league game against Kilburn Cosmos. Special mention go to: Abby Crawford - playing at 12 - at least 10 bone- shattering tackles and fantastic organisation of defence. Sarah Barber = forward of the match - unrelenting ball carrying, strong line outs and scrums, beautifully punched girl in the face. Emma Wade = back of the match - two tries, big hits, quick chases. nuff said.