As Hackney exited a long Piccadilly line ride to Acton, the wind announced in no uncertain terms that conditions would be tricky. Traditionally strong starters and at home on their “postage stamp” pitch, the advantage was Actonians’ in the opening minutes. With hard hitting forward runs, they sucked the Griffins in, only to spin it wide and score in the corner with barely five minutes on the clock. 

Hackney regained their composure shortly afterwards, with the remainder of the half a hotly contested affair. Both sides made hard hitting runs into the opponent’s 22, but the lack of line breaks and zealous use of the referee’s whistle prevented it being a high scoring period. However, as the half drew to a close, Hackney’s pressure eventually told, with a penalty awarded just outside the red zone. Despite protests to the contrary, Will “The Sage” Bowers opted for the posts and O’Hara duly slotted the points, to make it 5-3.

Just as Hackney were looking like coming back into the game, Mike “Hands In” Ward had what could only be described as a moment of madness at a ruck on half way, with the referee having no hesitation in brandishing a yellow.

Down to 14 as the second half restarted, Hackney soon saw that penalty evened up. An infringement 30 yards out saw the Actonians’ kicker duly slot a penalty in tricky conditions to restore their five point advantage.

Despite their one man disadvantage, Hackney’s dominance in set piece began to tell, with both the Actonian lineout and scrum under pressure. Hackney began to string phases together and soon set up camp on the opposition’s five metre line. Actonians’ defence remained firm however, and their heroic resistance kept Hackney out. Two particularly excellent try saving tackles were made, with Burrows bundled into touch and Frost held up. 

Nonetheless, concerted Hackney pressure eventually cracked Actonians, with Burrows characteristically refusing to convert a two on one in the traditional manner, and stepping inside to score. The wind thwarted O’Hara’s conversion attempt, blowing the ball off the tee as he was about to strike, keeping the score at 8-8. Just five minutes later, and Hackney pulled ahead for the first time in the game, with an O’Hara penalty.
Still anyone’s game at 11-8 to Hackney, both sets of backs took to pinning the opposition back with tactical use of the boot. Hackney were the ones who found the gaps, and supported by a now dominant line out, it was Hackney who won the exchange. Under pressure in his own 22, the Actonians 9 opted to box, only for Burrows to collect on half way and proceed on a barnstorming return into the opponent’s 22. Support was rapidly with him, and a deft pass allowed Sullivan to cross the whitewash. With the conversion missed, the score left Hackney eight points up.

The subsequent kick off, which the wind had made tricky for the receiving side all day, went astray from Hackney and led to an Actonians penalty. Their kicker again did well to bag the points in the wind, leaving only a five point deficit with 10 minutes to go.

Undaunted, Hackney proceeded to pin Actonians back via a deep kick off, and although the opposition made some ground, the Griffins’ defence held firm. Eventually defensive pressure led to the ball going astray in mid-field, allowing Askham to get himself on the score sheet. O’Hara slotted the conversion for a 23-11 win.

The result meant Hackney remain right in the mix for the top of the London Three North West table, just two points off the lead. A result next week against first place Nigerians would see them leap frog the current league leaders and solidify their place as a true contender for promotion.