Hemel Hempstead is a place of contrasts. Its small, rectangular railway station may be less than attractive, while the Spa next door doesn't even sell port. But the wide, grassy fields of Hemel RFC, filled with the handsome, blue clad men of Hackney 3s, were in beautiful. However, with an injury ravaged squad, the Gogs took to the field with eleven forwards on the pitch, three of them in the back line. Rhys Johnson and Ev Rafferty formed Hackney's newest centre partnership while Patch Thompson had vowed to do his best Lomu impression on the wing…

The advantage in the first half swung between both teams, with a lot of play in the middle of the park. An excellent defensive effort and strong set piece, first few scrums not included, from the forwards gave Hackney a strong base. But Hemel's fast inside backs and simple, well executed game plan provided them with a number of try scoring opportunities which they took. Rhy Johnson struck back with a great forty metre run and when the whistle went the home side were up three scores to one. However Hackney were still in touch and felt confident of a strong second period.

In true Gogs style some sloppy defence at the restart gifted Hemel a soft converted try. However from this point Hackney started to move up through the gears. Alex Higgs and Charlie Blagborough carried strong and hard while Dave Josling, despite having insisted he was only 'good for twenty minutes', took great joy in chopping Hemel players in half when Hackney were defending. After a good spell at ten, Michael Ryan had to go of injured to Ev Rafferty, amateur rugby's answer to Austin Healey, stepped in to the pivot. On the right wing Joe Veal ran hard and was unlucky not to get near the try line on a number of occasions.

With Hackney a man short the Hemel ten attempted an auditions cross field kick that Patch Thompson gathered. Going outside his opposite number the flanker turned wing found himself in more space than he'd ever seen on a rugby pitch. Moving with as much pace as possible he fixed the covering defender and, with an outrageous goose step, glided round him like a phantom. Havig expended all his available pace and flair he then popped the ball inside for Mr Rafferty to cross the line. No one will ever head the end of that step…

Hackney pushed hard and were determined to come back. However unfortunate errors at key moments cost the Gogs a few half chances and Hemel scored a pair of breakaway tries to put the game realistically beyond the visitors. This dispute some excellent defence, Alex Higg's 'accidental' trip aside. Five five minutes left Hackney gathered together and resolved to spend the rest of the game in Hemel's half. Gathering the restart the Gogs spent phase after phase in attack and Hemel had two players sent to the bin for persistent infringement in the red zone. Hackney tapped and went and Rafferty scored under the posts. With the game done, Hackney's latest wing sensation stepped up and popped the conversion over, to the shock of those assembled on the side lines.

Overall, despite the score line, it was an enjoyable game and a positive performance from a team full of new partnerships and players out of position. Alex Higgs, Rhys Johnson and Ev Rafferty all deserve mentioned for their performances, but Dave Josling was MotM after tackling himself into the ground and showing surprising pace for a big man.