Hackney Hammer Hapless Hemel

All alliteration aside, as first team captain PJ Lloyd stepped out on to the field he knew that his Hackney first team had a challenge ahead of them to maintain their 100% start to the season. 

Opting to kick and trust the defence Hackney turned on the style and turned the ball over to allow first choice second row Riccardo to stampede down the wing from 40 yards and score his first Hackney try. Conversion by the first choice kicker Askham opened up a 7-0 lead. Another penalty increased the lead to 10-0 before Hemel started to get in the game. Hackney have now become accustomed to a certain style of play from their home counties rivals and Hackney's first choice back row had to put their relative lack of size to one side and lay their bodies on the line for the cause. Eventually the pressure told and Hemel's winger exploited an overlap to score in the corner to close the gap.

Hackney had no appetite for another close game though and struck back immediately. The sight of first choice number 8 Adam Balzano leaping like a hairy salmon through the air to reclaim the kick off will live long in the memory and Hackney set up camp in the Hemel half. Captain PJ pounced on a Hemel mistake to boot forward, gather and dot down for another Hackney try. Although the visitors struck back with a try of their own, the Hemel midfield butter was powerless to resist the hot knives of first choice centres Sean Conner and Captain PJ and some slick handling and support play allowed first choice scrum half Ed Clark to secure the bonus point, giving Hackney a 24-10 half time lead. 

The Hackney development XV had not enjoyed a lead this big in any of their 3 previous league games but this Hackney first choice first team were committed to making the end of this game about as interesting as a Lawrence Mills/Will Burrows anecdote.  An early second half penalty settled any nerves before first choice fullback Charlie Williams exhibited his frankly terrifying pace to outstrip the Hemel back line and touch down for another converted try. 

One slight blip (not including line outs or scrums) in the Hackney performance was the inability to properly execute their exit plays. First choice tight head Sam Alderson decided to take matters into his own hands. A rampaging run from just outside his own 22 left a trail of bodies in his wake and a well timed offload to Conner put the first choice centre in for a quick-fire and well deserved try. 

Arguably the most pleasing aspect of the game was the second half shut out which was secured with a period of dogged almost Australian-esque defence. A few too many infringements in the red zone led to a yellow card for first choice scrum half Ed Clark. He was mainly paying the price for first choice second row Riccardo's many sins ('at least one penalty for every point I contributed'). First choice flanker Charlie Davis showed all of his experience to step in at scrum half and marshal the defence in the last 10 minutes. Hackney remained committed to to putting their bodies on the line and first choice full back Charlie Williams was fortunate to come off on the right side of a nasty head clash that left a Hemel player's nose in a terrible state. 

The icing on the cake was applied when Conner cut through the Hemel midfield yet again and, presented with a choice of 3 or 4 support runners, offloaded to first choice back row forward Paul Baker for a 6th Hackney try and a 48-10 victory. 

This bonus point victory, by the biggest margin of the season, put Hackney clear at the top of the table. A key early season clash against Belsize Park in 2 weeks time will surely have first team captain PJ Lloyd thinking long and hard about selection for his first team.