Far from soaring on the wings of optimism, promotion in sight, Hackney Gladies turned up to Fortress Spring Hill for an early Saturday morning kick off, still battered from the previous week’s defeat at Bletchley (16 acres of ambulances, conceded tries and black eyes), and formed an orderly queue for the treatment room to be strapped up, strapped down, taped up, have savlon smeared on every limb, and generally hope that the bruises and creaky bones would withstand a final league game. Hopes were soon raised upon entering the changing rooms, finding not only a bunch of flowers and two bottles of Tesco’s finest bubbly (cheers coach), but even toilet roll. In both toilets.

Kilburn confused the mighty Gladiators before a ball was even passed, sneakily plonking thirteen players on the pitch whilst crying out “Twelves! Uncontested scrums!” But secretly the props were happy for their super shoulders to have a rest, and the game soon got underway with five points from our top-try-scorer Emma Wade, cutting a beautiful line back inside the defence and putting the ball yet again over the line. Another individual score soon made it over from Lydia Meeson, who seemed to easily glide through the fringes of any ruck Kilburn attempted to contest.

The Cosmos then suddenly produced some forceful phases of attack, parking the Gladies firmly against their line and playing some excellent, simple phased rugby to gain a deserved score. Hackney, fearing a repeat of the previous week, realised a weak defence was going to cost them dearly, and when super scorer Wade went off with injury it was realised we needed to step up our game. Cue a brilliant try from our resident trophy-winner Jo Cotterell, and a superb individual effort from Bryony Simmons, who effortlessly stepped 2 defenders to sprint clear to the line. Some strong running from Chloe Law and excellent clearance kicking from Emily Ryan were then blighted by Ryan injuring her ankle, and the game was brought to a standstill as it took two hackney forwards to carry the giraffe off the pitch. Cotterell, so overcome with grief at the loss of her Aussie mate, then proceeded to crash through the Kilburn defence, over the try line, only to be fooled by the short dead ball line, landing triumphantly in the try scoring area only to realise her leg was dangling off the pitch altogether. Duh.

The second half saw a further try from Simmons. This was followed by Sarah Barber sneaking out onto the wing, obliterating the panicking defenders and pretending to score a try so well that even Kilburn were fooled, luckily Sarah Lawrence, realising she was short, scooped the ball and scored her first well-deserved try of the season. Jenni Hall brought experience to the wing, especially when defending Kilburn’s weaving centre-runners. Some try saving tackles from Sonja Matthews and Abby Crawford followed, with strong attacking from Flic Auer into space. The stand-out Kilburn outside centre finally broke the line and scored Kilburn’s second and final try, much to the disappointment of a tiring Gladies side. Jess Cobb then went on to add to her rainbow colours of bruising, with yet another black eye from a frustrated Kilburn defence, but Cobb, Mclean and Emily Lang stood out especially strong at rucks, with replacement Astrid Bjorvig welcomed back on to the pitch for what was an excellent game for the pack. A special mention must go to Georgina Howick, who, despite it being her first ever game of rugby, looked like she had played for years and had some fantastic runs down the wing, leaving the support trailing.