After a short break for the Gargoyles it was a welcome return to playing action for the gentlemen from Hackney. Having already secured the 5 points in the Merit Table through the Walkover from the Mount. The short trip to local rivals Haringey Rhinos was a chance to shake off some rust before a tough run of league games on the horizon. On arrival the sight of a dry day and a firm track saw the away teams eyes light up at the prospect of playing a team of older gentlemen. This was the case at least for those who turned up on time. Special mention goes to Macker (Cian) who committed his first infringement of the day. Despite living a 7 minute walk away from the Haringey pitch showed up with about that to go before KO.

With the full squad finally assembled the match started at a frantic pace, Rhinos were unable to secure the KO effectively and an early turnover saw Hackney charge into the opposition 22 only to be stopped illegally. With Hackney fielding a number of players on ‘dayboo’ and out of position the set piece took a while to function to its potential. It is at this point that special mention needs to go to Rob Fitzgerald who has probably learnt that when someone asks for a volunteer to prop not to be so enthusiastic. However top man for giving it a go and hopefully didn’t have to buy a beer in the clubhouse after.

With the Rhinos set piece in the ascendency the spirited Hackney defence was broken twice in the space of 5 minutes. The first from a number of missed tackles allowing one of Rhinos more sizeable gentlemen to go over from 15 metres out and the second from an overthrown defensive lineout. With Hackney behind for the first time this season the tempo was raised and good attacking opportunities from a potent back three of Dan Aylward, Luke Leyland and Charlie Williams saw Charlie dance up the touchline to score in the last play of the half to see the sides change end 14-5 in favour of the home team.

With Hackney making the most of a large squad, a fresh injection of ‘mongrel’ from the likes of Tully, Nathaniel and Ollay saw Hackney start putting a number of phases together and maintain possession. A line break from stand in Skipper Dan Worth saw hackney break from the 22 and with the support of scrum half Sanj make it to the opposition 10m line. The return pass was intercepted by the recovering winger who, to his misfortune was ‘Tullied’ causing the ball to ball to go loose. After Pierre and Eldon had discussed who was going to pick the ball up, it was the Hackney fly half who took on the 40m run in, where he was congratulated by Pierre who had got to the try line some 10 seconds before him. The score was somewhat surprisingly converted by Worth from wide out to bring Hackney within 2. The Rhinos continued to press and with their large and surprisingly quick prop having the door held open for him by Messers Takitimu and Worth broke the line much to the joys of full back Charlie Williams. However a superb cover tackle from Cian allowed Charlie to not having to resort to embarrassing a man more than twice his size. From here Hackney regained possession and quick hands allowed Charlie space to grubber through for the on rushing Olay to pick up and scamper round his opposite number and dot down in between the posts. Another successful conversion from Worth and it was the away team in the lead 19-14.

In the last 20 it was the Hackney pack that really dug in, the scrum now much settled and the rolling maul no longer a main weapon for the Rhinos ‘old guard’. Credit in particular at one such maul goes to the Baron Von Higgs who, still bitter at not getting a mention in the Welwyn match report worked his way through the Haringey forwards to prevent being effectively played by the 9. He was then sufficiently reward by his opposition who seemed to ‘bundle’ on to his head. Nervous final minutes as Rhinos looked for a winner were not helped when Eldon was beating on the inside by his opposite man running for his pension. However the ball was turned over and bundled into touch.

A tough, physical and scrappy game but a win none the less for the Gargoyles who march on to Datchworth next week still unbeaten for the season.