After 5 seasons and many anxious hours spent agonising over the capricious selection policies of the Hackney 2s, I have had an epiphany –you can be a shit rugby player and still get picked, as long as you do some admin. So here I am, back again to regale you with tales of Taki’s 2s.


Hackney took a strong squad to take on a Cheshunt side who had made a good start to the season. For the first time in a couple of months, talismanic captain Damien Bouvier was back to the lead the side. He was joined in a rejigged pack by leviathan props Higgs and Arneguy, locks Blagborough and Sudell, hard running No. 8 Johnny Wolfe (now added to the club captain’s mailing list), and the club’s favourite Irishman Cian McDonagh. Ben Jones was also named to start but an injury in the warm up (get well soon bro) saw Pete Smith elevated into the starting line-up. A settled looking backline saw Hackney field the same players at first five, second five and centre (10-12-13) in consecutive weeks for the first time in about 3 years, with Sanj Deb receiving the call-up to spark the backline from 9. Charlie Davis once again took up his place on the wing and was joined by the returning Charlie Williams and Olly Kazeem in a back three that had pace, anger and a huge black man. Luke Leyland (recovered from last Saturday’s one day bug) and green shorts-clad Frenchman Pierre Hubert (get some Hackney shorts bro. Please) rounded out the squad. Rested this week were props Waithe and Bates (age) and midfielder Worth (weight).

 

Hackney learned their lesson from the Harpenden match, starting well by forcing the receiving Cheshunt pack into an error from a towering kick off. Hackney swept forward from the mistake and McDonagh ran a superb line outside first receiver to cross under the posts for the first score of the day after less than a minute. The try was converted. 7 nil Hackney.


Hackney continued to play at tempo and stretched the big Cheshunt line-up with strong carries from all over the park. Around the quarter mark, an inspired breakout from Davis put Hackney in a strong attacking position and two phases later Captain Bouvier ran a filthy line outside the pivot to surge onto the ball 40 out, galloping to the line almost untouched. Try converted. Hackney 14-0.


Unfortunately, our plans to roll over the top of Cheshunt with our scrum were scuppered shortly afterward, with Zinzan Brooke's lovechild Charlie Blagborough succumbing to injury. The scrums had to go uncontested, bringing Cheshunt back into the game. Cheshunt attacked strongly in the second quarter of the match and were rewarded with a try from close range after some excellent phase play. Hackney 14-5.


Hackney responded well from the kickoff, pressuring Cheshunt into a turnover. Strong carries from the rejigged backrow of Smith, Kazeem and McDonagh saw Hackney camped in the Cheshunt 22 for much of the final 10 of the half. Davis was extremely unlucky to be denied by strong goal-line defence, being ruled to have lost possession as he put the ball down amidst the attention of multiple defenders. Davis did come up with the clutch play on the stroke of halftime; steaming onto a perfect long ball that cut out four rushing defenders to dot down in the corner. Leyland converted to make it 21-5 heading into the break.

 

The usual halftime battle cry of ‘cut out the offloads’ was met with the usual response of multiple offloads in the opening play of the second half. Hackney were unlucky to score from that movement but did make the pressure tell minutes later when number 8 Wolfe steamed over from the base of the scrum. 26-5 Hackney.

 

From there, the intensity went out of the game a little as Hackney perhaps let their foot off the accelerator, bombed a couple of tries and Cheshunt came back strongly to score twice to make things interesting. Hackney responded with a well-executed Spears (or is it ‘Spares’?) move which saw Williams isolate the Cheshunt fullback and draw and pass for an unmarked Luke Leyland to score. Hackney then backed this up with a sweeping backline play from inside their own half, leading to a try to Williams. Hackney 36-17, putting the contest to bed heading into the final 10. Cheshunt scored late on to make it 36-22 at the close.


A strong game from Pete Smith saw him take man of the match honours, whilst there were also strong games from fellow League debutants Hubert and Deb. Gamage and Aylward were effective in midfield once again as was Kazeem in a multitude of positions. As per usual McDonagh and Sudell were immense with ball in hand and over the ball and Old Man Bouvier capped off a strong return with some bone jarring hits in defence.


The post match meal was beans, chips and sausages. Not quite in the same category as Harpenden's pie and mash or Will Bowers’ beef rendang, but still in the top tier.

 

See you next week. Go well.

 

E