With last week’s defeat still fresh in the minds, Hackney ventured into the provinces for a second consecutive week and, while far from perfect, a spirited defensive performance afforded the team a happier journey back into the confines of the M25.

In sharp contrast to a week ago, Hackney started by far the stronger of the two teams and were the first onto the scoresheet after an unfortunate early injury to James Legg. A well placed offensive scrum for Hackney, just shy of the opposition 22m line, provided a perfect opportunity for the backs to show their clinical edge and settle any nerves. A solid scrum and well-timed strike play afforded Sean Conner a strong break and enough time to put PJ Lloyd away in the corner.

However, while Hackney grabbed the initial spoils, Hemel were clearly in no mood to lie over and, following a less than perfect exit play, had the field position to negate Hackney’s early spoils. Despite a few hard lines, strong tackling and breakdown work was eventually rewarded with a turnover. A quick call from O’Hara on the blindside saw a strong counterattack and a second try for Hackney after silky footwork from PJ allowed Rich Frost the space to ground the ball, adding another 5 points to Hackney’s tally.
Following a physical first half, Hackney increasingly became to resemble a more makeshift side. With players taking a bit of time to settle into their new positions, Hemel, who had enjoyed a number of strong spells in the game were finally able to capitalise on a spell of possession piercing the defence with their own book of set plays. The successful conversion was quickly followed by three points from the tee to bring the two teams back onto a level footing.

While one could expect Hackney to become disheartened by squandering a 10 point lead, the team were able to build on experiences of tight contests earlier in the season and set about regaining some momentum with ball in hand. After working through a number of well-managed sets of phases without scoring, Hackney were finally able to take advantage of a poorly judged box-kick from the Hemel scrum-half. Good hands from the back-three in broken play allowed Hackney to return down the touchline and Conner display a combination of strength and awareness to dot down on the side-line. This proved the decisive score, with Hemel failing to capitalise on a one-man advantage in the final minutes of the game.