The Takitimu Way

Thursday is always a big day in the Takitimu household for its only after the squad email that we make our plans for the upcoming Saturday. What would this week's 2s squad email bring? Would it be another Saturday full of wife-led activities? More early morning drinking perhaps? Not this week. The Don was back. 17 other players were also named.

Preparations began immediately with a curry-based strategy outing in London's East-end. Many 2s legends are in attendance -first team legend Alex O'Hara even makes a morale boosting appearance. The only moment of awkwardness comes when Shaun Rooke insists that, as club captain, all orders must go through him. He does a decent job – the lamb chop to curry ratio is a little off but generally the boys are happy. My anecdotes keep everybody amused. We eat. We drink. We laugh. We bond.

A 2s game is never complete without a last minute dropout or two. This week it was new boys Johnny Wolfe (what happened to you bro?) and Dr. Luke Leyland who had "picked up something from one of the patients" early on Saturday morning. This brought former 2s captain and future 3s captain Matt Hanton into the squad for his first time in 2016/17. He had lost none of astute judgment or his trademark pace, as evidenced by a flawless 50 minutes running the touch.

To the match…We quickly paid the price for not having Morgan there to put us through our paces in the warm-up as Harpenden raced to a 17 point lead in the opening 20 minutes. The only noteworthy Hackney action in the opening 20 was when Shaun Rooke and Mike Ward attempted a high speed hongi (a traditional Māori greeting where two people simultaneously press their noses and foreheads together in a symbolic show of harmony by breathing the same air); I assume this was as a quiet nod to having the club's favourite Maori back in the 2s driving seat but, whilst the sentiment was appreciated, it had disastrous consequences for Mr Rooke as his nose splattered all over Mike's face.

Hackney recovered from its slumber as the half rolled on. For the second week straight, Charlie Davis found his way to the tryline. It was to be Hackney's only reward for a pretty good second 20 of the first half. Old Man Hart was particularly unlucky to be held up by 7 defenders as he attempted to wind back the years tearing down on the right wing. Regardless, the boys were confident heading into halftime despite being 17-5 down.

Hackney started a torrid second half strongly. It wouldn't be a Hackney 2s match without a try to Dan Worth and around the 50th minute he found himself unmarked on the wing. In a swift player change, Matt Hanton replaced yours truly in between the try being scored and the conversion being taken. He missed. 17-10 Harpenden.

I was off the field for about 8 minutes. Not much happened. I returned when fullback Will capped a strong match with a huge gash above his eye. Matt Hanton's switch to fullback paid instant dividends with a delightful counterattack and long ball to Mike Ward for the try. Hanton nailed the conversion and we headed into the final 13 minutes 22-17 down.

Riccardo got himself carded shortly after and Hackney struggled to maintain the rage as Harpenden attacked for the final 10 minutes against 14 man Hackney, eventually scoring with the last play of the match to make it 27-17.

Official Man of the match went to debutant Rob Gamage . Mike Ward must have been close for making all of my, Shaun Rooke and Dan Worth's tackles in a strong effort. Dan Alyward was ever dangerous in midfield. Special mention also to our front row who, with a combined age of 144, held their own against a very good Harpenden pack. Batesy even made a superb try saving tackle, literally holding on with his finger nails…

Quote of the day goes to the Harpenden 10 who was overheard screaming at his team mates "I don't want to look at you all and have to say 'I carried you today'" right before he was carried off with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Instant karma.

All in all, rugby was the winner on the day (and Harpenden).

A special shout out to Sally and the team at Harpenden RFC for the jugs we were greeted with in the changing room and the pie and mash post match. The pie was cooked to near perfection - the pastry was flakey; the filling hot, brown and steamy. The mash perhaps could have done with some garlic or a perhaps a dollop of truffle oil to really elevate the dish, but as far as post match rugby grub goes, it was top drawer.

Eldon Takitimu

The Man. The Speaker. The Cook. The Rugby Player. The Giving Back. The Businessman.