If a rugby player scores a try not nobody sees it, is it still a try?
That was the question on the lips of the Gogs as they assembled at Hackney Marshes for a return fixture against St Albans. This philosophical grappling was owing to Chris Reay, the team’s sometimes flair filled skipper, claiming to have scored a glorious try the week previously, despite absolutely no one having seen it.
Anyway, where was I? St Albans arrived a little late so the Hackney joints were well warmed by the time kick off came at around 2.15. The opening phases of the game were well balanced and indeed, for half an hour the sides traded territory and possession frequently, making for an entertaining end to end game. The Hackney scrum was unusually strong and line out worked well to disrupt St Albans’ attempts to build momentum, but first up tackling was at times a little lax.
The first break through came on the thirty minute mark when a bold long line out throw, called by Hackney’s line out general (a self given title) saw quick ball to Reay at ten and, one short pass later, Will Howard breaking the first tackle and cantering through the St Albans’ 22 to score, defenders in his wake. Reay slotted the extras and Hackney took the ascendancy. However the visitors scored a well worked try out wide just before half time to make the score 7-5 at the break.
In the second half Hackney began to move through the gears. The forwards established some set piece dominance and a real bite to their rucking that has, perhaps, been lacking at times this season. With a solid platform to work with Reay pulled the strings using his boot and sometimes even passing as well. The result were two excellently worked tries. The first was from Ollie Ball, dotting down after Colm Brady has exploited space out wide and turned the St Albans fullback. The second went to flanker turned outside centre George Wallington-Smith. Cruelly denied a try due to a forward pass call minutes beforehand, Hackney’s newest back scored after a flowing breakaway moved involving multiple players, with some Quins-esque offloading. The winter sunshine was tinged with champagne bubbles.
However there was still plenty of the game left an St Albans continued to show a lot of threat out wide, scoring a second try to bring the game close in the final quarter. Guilty of some ill disciple around high tackles and the offside line, Hackney also gave away the momentum at times, leading to a tense finish.
However, when a hero was needed one stepped forwards in be-quiffed glory. With the Gogs attacking from halfway, Reay looked to his Club Captain for inspireaytion in his hour of need. Taking the ball in the twelve channel (sorry Will…), he provided in bountiful abundance. Crossing the gain line with what has been described both as a ‘Campese goose step’ and a ‘strange shuffle’ he broke the first tackle and found an ocean of space between himself and the uprights. Like the skinniest ‘prop gone rogue’ ever, our hero pinned back his ears and with the (mostly imaginary) cries of his teammates, loved ones and a host of Hackney greats ringing through his mind, galloped to an undignified flop under the posts.
Of course, no one claimed they saw anything.