This one could have gone better.


Having played exceptionally well the week before in notching up a ton, the Gogs travelled north to Old Grammarians; rivals with whom traditionally close games have become the norm. Today was, regrettably, not one of those days.


With the 2s having scared Hertford into forfeiting their Merit 2 match, Captain Bouvier travelled with the Gogs to lend an experienced head to proceedings from the sideline and to see who might make the step up to the undefeated Gargoyles. With the weather looking good and accurate(ish) practice arrows from new line-out exponents Rhys Johnson and the returning Captain, all seemed to look good. However, from the moment the referee informed Messrs Bouvier and Baker that kick-out was imminent (his watch being 15 minutes fast), things started to go array.


The match began with an immediate scuffle on the side-line, leading to the Grams 12 being sin-binned for throwing a punch, and full-back Rhys Davies getting the same punishment for receiving one. Down to 14 on each side appeared to suit Grams better who ran hard direct lines that Hackney's normally stalwart defence struggled to cope with. In spite of excellent scrambling from the likes of Rob Fitzgerald and debutant Pete Smith, Grams crossed the whitewash twice in quick succession.


The unideal start appeared to abate when the aforementioned Grams 12 was the wrong man with the wrong hands in the wrong ruck, receiving his second yellow card on the basis of a team warning. With a man up, Hackney started to get back into the game with good running from the evergreen John Chung and Rhys Johnson, among others. However, an unstable platform caused by inaccurate line-out throws at key moments and a scrum on the back-foot meant the Gogs' strong back-line never really got out of third gear. Two further tries for Grams meant the half ended 24-0.


Harsh words were had at half time and for the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Gogs looked as if they had belatedly entered the fray. Stronger tackling and good phase play kept Grams pinned against their own line. On another day, a couple of passes may have gone to hand and the Gogs would have begun to work into the Grams lead, but not today as the dangerous Grams 13 made a break from his 22 that eventually led to another score. The Gogs stuck to the task but disjointed inside cover defence allowed Grams to consistently break out and keep the game away from their line. Matt Hanton's introduction with 30 to go provided some impetus and hard running from the likes of Waithe, Davies and Smith (the latter ending the game atopenside) again brought Hackney close to the Grams line, but strong one-on-one defending kept the Gogs from the scoresheet until Smith barrelled over late on to cap a M-O-M performance on a difficult day. The absence of a second red card for the hosts following a stamp on Fitzgerald (on the basis that the referee had already blown for a knock-on) somewhat summed up an afternoon where little went right.


A disappointing game from the Gogs' perspective, but with a talented squad (and a lot more practice of line-out throwing from the author) the season still looks bright. The squad was certainly looking forward to the visit of Royston 2s for an opportunity to right a few wrongs.