A Saturday at Spring Hill in late November is normally the sight of any sort of rejoice or enthusiasm for any rugby player who has played there before. This is normally the equalising territory for the likes gnarled old members of the tight five, the Oli Harts of this world taking revenge on the more spritely/less injured members of the opposition. However this was not the case this year, with the sun still shining, the temperature crisp and the mouldies still being effective, Hackney welcomed Welwyn to Springhill for the last game of 2016 in a competition of 1st plays 4th.

A much settled Hackney team took to the field and in traditional style, proceeded to give away 3 penalties in the first five minute. However, possession and territory was all that was given away and with many a Hackney player setting an early stall out in defense. Once in attack, the pace was frantic, the rucking astute, the finishing…..lacking. Opportunities were halted through a combination of the Sniper in the bushes causing Charlie Williams to fall down at will and Eldon ‘Barrett’ Takitimu firing off bounce passes to touch.

As the clock ticked on and Hackney started taking the upper hand the ball began to flow across the pitch from 15m channel to 15m channel sweeping passes causing havoc with the Welwyn backline. That was until Hackneys Honeybadger Dave Akkersdyke ignored the 5 man overlap outside him to ‘claw the canastas off the big fella and bag himself a bit of meat’. It was at this point calls for calm were cast amongst the team and with that Julian Bazetto collected the kick off astutely and with his Brazillian heritage coming through ‘leathered’ the ball down field, the only problem being that he had gone beyond the 22m handing territory and possession back to Welwyn.

Hackney then stepped it up a gear and were nearly 12 points to the good until Shaun Rooke managed to ‘Dan Worth’ Dan Worth, peeling off the back of the rucking dummying to the on rushing centre (who would’ve gone in untouched) and procced to get cosy with the defences front row. Thankfully this was rectified shortly after when, effective kick returns from James Rowbottom and Charlie ‘Paterson’ King saw space open up and Reece Denne who was ‘busier than a one armed bricklayer in Baghdad’ went over from 20m. This was a recurring theme for the next 2 scores with Hackney making breaks seemingly at will, and then allowing Reece ‘on it like a seagull at a tip’ to take the glory with his 5th try in 2 games.

As the half grew on Dan Aylward struggling with fitness after the big shift he’d put in and Dan Worth (still not bitter about Rooke non pass) were replaced to allow Chris Conning to make his debut for the 2’s and 3rd XV centre Rob Gamage to get involved in the mix. Another burst up the touch line and a dummy to new best friend Morgan saw Eldon make in roads into the Welwyn 22. A penalty was won, a quick tap and go soft hands from all back line members apart from Gamage saw try butcher Charlie Williams stay vertical long enough to get his token try of the game.

Half time came, the bagel still intact and a wry smile on the face of Captain Bouvier as cries to be clinical and enjoy the half were heard across Springhill, and for a short time it was strong carrying from Ricardo, Mike Waithe and Bouvier saw Cian take a break from giving away penalties and dance a merry Irish jig to the line for a second half brace. This was then followed by a swift handling move from the hackney backline to put Dave in for his second of the day. It was at this point that it seemed like Welwyn were ‘like the boy who fell out of the tree. They just weren’t in it’. But a combination of poor decision making, easing off the gas and Ricky and Cian arguing over who should’ve been given the yellow card saw Hackney down to 14 and under the cosh for much of the last 20 minutes. Much credit goes to the pack at this point with Welwyn smelling blood, the ‘Magnificent 7’ took one against the tighthead realeased it to King and several pairs of hands and 90m later Aylward scored with his first touch of the game. With another 10minutes of pressure being surely dealt with the Bagel was ensured and Hackney finish 2016 top of Merit 2. Merry Bloody Xmas (even if it is still November – Subject to Bouvier pulling his finger out and publishing this on time)