The Humble Men of Hackney March On


It was a dreary Autumn day as the shade of winter crept ever so closer to Spring Hill. A blanket of cloud overhead and the remnants of the morning dew underfoot would rarely whet the appetite of Hackney’s rugby aficionado's but the visit of 3rd placed Stevenage was more than enough to make up for this.

Somewhat of a “get out of jail team” for Hackney in the past their Hertfordshirian rivals would be eager to make amends for last minute losses of old and started the game in such a fashion. With barely five minutes gone in the game they proved their worth in the outside channels and scored a fine try in the left corner to set the tone for the game.

Hackney were caught out in the cold but wasted little time in stomping their authority. The home side pressured Stevenage from the restart and eventually found themselves with possession in the opposition’s 22. Strong carries over the gain line fractured the Stevenage defence and normal service resumed as Alex O’ Hara capitalised in a familiar fashion. Six weeks on the sidelines can work wonders for a trundle and O’Hara proved this with a show and go 5 metres from the Stevenage try line to open the scores for the home side.

The Griffins would double their score not long after this as a second visit to the red zone yielded another five pointer. On this occasion a well weighted grubber through found Rich Frost haring onto it to touch down and give Hackney the lead for the first time.

To their credit Stevenage fought back valiantly and the Hackney try line was breached for a second time, an occurrence which has seldom been matched so far this season. It would be at this point that the Hackney D shut up shop and kept the lively Stevenage attack at bay for the (considerable) remainder of the game.

Continuously pegging back their visitors with astute kicking the Hackney men controlled the game impressively. Sam Wilkinson added a third try for the home side before Hackney felt the benefit of Johnny Crockett’s Indian summer with the lock sealing the try bonus point just before half time. According to the Hackney record books this is the first time that Crockett has grabbed a meat pie in three seasons. What is rare is glorious.

It was much of the same for the second half as the Griffins rewarded their faithful fans with some sizzling rugby. Bosh bisque with a side of rhino filet was on special offer as the Hackney men muscled their way over the gain line time and time again, eventually grounding down the opposition.

A scything run from JP Lloyd cut through the belly of Stevenage before the ball was fed wide where slick interplay between Guy Watmore, Frost and Dunlop saw the Scotsman cross the white wash.

Hackney’s dominance in the collision paid dividends up front and Ben Chamberlain and Fraser Tait were rewarded for their strong ball carrying with a try a piece.

Hackney reached their half-century with the last play of the game as O’ Hara put Dunlop through a defensive line that could have been mistaken for a mannequin challenge. Joe Askham added to extras to cap a fine day off the tee and leave the scoreline at 52 – 12.

It was clearly evident that Stevenage have a strong team and will challenge for a promotion place at the business end of the season but it was not to be their day.

Hackney’s efficiency in attack was exemplary with the Griffins making hay with every visit to the opposition’s 22. This was backed this up with low handling errors and an outstanding defence intensity and support play which allowed them to play at a speed that Stevenage could not sustain.

The MoTM award goes to Matt Strong who put in a performance that saw him constantly make impacts in attack and defence as well as clearing up sloppy ball at the base of the scrum. Such was the exhibition that coach Marcus Tobin is said to be considering sacking off the physio to pay Matt's dad to come watch home games for the rest of the season.