On Saturday last Hackney’s merry men departed Waterloo station for the bowels of South West London to take on Staines RFC. Home to notable English greats as Lawrence Dallaglio and Ali G (booyaka booyaka) the tantalising trip was improved immeasurably by the fine company that were headed in the same direction to watch England play Argentina. An hour rubbing chinos with the rosey cheeked masses left the Griffins in good stead to vent some frustration but they were greeted by a Staines side in a similar mood. Having shipped on average 60 points a game including a 92-0 rollicking to Stevenage signs were ominous of another drubbing but to their credit the visitors didn’t have it all their own way.

As the leaves loosened in the winnowing wind and the sun lay it’s long shadow on the sundial Alex O’ Hara got proceedings underway. The basement boys showed little respect for the league leaders and early forays tested Hackney’s physicality and defence. No more so epitomised than Rich Frosts “Tiananmen Square” moment against their number eight.

Will Bowers attempted to relieve some of this pressure by putting his shiny new pair of pink and black boots to good use with a clearance kick. To the surprise of no one hours of drop kick practice at Mabley Green seemingly don’t equate to a cultured right boot and his kick was blocked down (video footage of the event has since surfaced on social media). Thankfully one of the quick thinking backs was there to clean up the mess and Hackney cleared their lines.

Having weathered this early storm and marched their way up field wingers Will Burrows and PJ Lloyd were first to benefit as Staines struggled to match Hackney out wide. Simple finishes in either corner was enough to give Hackney some breathing space and confidence. Sean Conner announced his return to the 13 jersey with a weaving run from half way that bamboozled the Staines backs to put further daylight between the sides as Hackney began to let the shackles off. The Griffins secured the bonus point just before the stroke of half time as Frost was the quickest to react to a block down close to the Staines’ try line to give the visitors a comfortable lead going into the sheds.

Hackney took up from where they left off in the second half with Joe Askham benefiting from an overlap to score a try with his first touch of the game. Matt Strong and James Legg were untouchable in defusing the Staines restarts and as a result Hackney dominated much of the territory and possession. Hackney’s next try was set up by industrious second row Fraser Tait. Tait made plenty of hard yards going across the pitch (must have missed that training session at under 10s), drawing in defenders before feeding the ball to Lloyd who made light work of the last defender to touch down under the posts. Hackney’s intensity failed to drop for the remainder of the half with Matt Strong, Lloyd and Conner all scoring to take Hackney to 9 tries and a tally of 57 points.

In the last play of the game Staines through everything at the Griffins in an attempt to salvage some pride. A break out wide saw their full back boost for the try line and touch down amidst a flurry of flailing limbs and cries of “TOUCH REF, TOUCH”! Maybe it was the dimming light or maybe it was one whinge too many but the try was awarded and the full time whistle blown.

He may not have scored a hat trick of tries or supplied the team with delicious homemade millionaire’s shortbread but Matt Strong was deservedly awarded the MOTM in another energetic display at number eight.

With a top of the table clash just around the corner Hackney will do well to learn from their outing. Consistent intensity coupled with a low unforced error count bodes well for a team that is reaching maturity. However, chat back to the referee has been a smear on an otherwise sterling campaign. The Griffins can’t be knocked for effort in trying to persuade referees with their viewpoints from the bottom of a ruck. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result but hey what did he know.