FROM THE HACKNEY GAZETTE

Hackney RFC captain Will Bowers has targeted three wins from the four remaining London North West Division Three games to cap another fine season for the Griffins – after an impressive 27-22 victory over Grasshoppers at the weekend.

Open-side flanker Ben Chamberlain scored a hat-trick of tries, with substitute outside-centre Rob Stanley claiming the fourth and fifth – the first with his first touch – to complete a stirring comeback which solidified their position in the top six.

Bowers believes the club has come on leaps and bounds since he joined five years ago, and sees no reason why his side cannot maintain their good form in the run-in – starting at Finchley on Saturday.

“We’ve got four games to go this season, and I’d be annoyed if we didn’t come away with at least 15 points,” Bowers told the Gazette. “Three big bonus-point wins or three normal wins and a losing bonus point has to be the target.

“We beat Finchley at home with a real forwards performance, but I would say that our back-line has improved markedly since then. We’re a lot easier on the eye, with lots of good runs and well-coordinated moves. We’ll go there intent on expressing ourselves.

“We’re now giving 80-minute performances for the first time this year, picking from the same 19 or 20 players, which really is the key to winning a league.”

Much has changed since Bowers began his affiliation with Hackney in 2010. The volunteer-led club now boasts excellent facilities at Spring Hill and has taken some real scalps along the way this term.

“I know it’s clichéd, but we’ve come from grassroots stuff,” said Bowers. “When I first came, we got changed on the side of the pitch.

“To now match these teams and - in the case of Finchley, Grasshoppers and UCS - beat them, it’s really heartening for the Borough.

“The driving maul has just been superb all season; eight guys coming together and organizing. No one in the whole league has been able to deal with it.

“I think we’ve scored a dozen tries across all the games through the maul, which for a team that’s not the biggest is really good stuff.”

Grasshoppers, who are fourth in the league, never got to grips with the go-to move that Hackney utilized for their opening three tries.

The Hack raced into a ten-point lead through two Chamberlain tries after 14 minutes, but a penalty and converted try for the visitors brought the scores level at half-time.

“We’ve been in that position before where we’ve had a good start only to undo our work and not live up to our usual performance,” Bowers admitted. “But we came out in the second-half and really turned it on.”

Despite racing out the traps with Hackney ears ringing from a half-time dressing down, it was Grasshoppers who edged in front through another converted try.

But the Griffins showed their resolve, running in three unanswered scores to avenge the defeat in Isleworth earlier in the season.

Chamberlain completed his hat-trick, before Stanley went over the whitewash twice to ensure a five-star performance and Bowers reserved praise for scrum-half Charles O’Halloran in helping to orchestrate the hard-fought win.

“Charles really shone on the day,” Bowers continued. “In fact, he’s just been immense since he came to the club. He really gets us ticking, gets forwards and backs running off him well.

“Our line-outs were absolutely superb, winning 100% of our ball and about 75% of theirs.”

“We’ve had two bonus-point wins in a row and with four games to go - two against very beatable teams - I think we can move up to fifth or fourth.”