Readers, I must confess that I count myself to be something of a wordsmith. Why else would I volunteer to write Chris Reay’s match reports for him? Yet, this week I find myself at something of a loss. I am not sure my paltry powers of description can do the semi-final of the (prestigious) Herts and Middlesex Mert 5 Cup justice. But, club man that I am, I will try.
Late Spring in the flat wilds of Donkey Lane, Enfield. Hackney 3rd XV take on Enfield Ignatians in an exact replay of their final game of the 2014/15 season. A year ago Enfield had beaten the visitors in the Cup semi. This time Hackney were out for revenge.

Things started well, barring Chris getting the kick off time wrong, when within the first five minutes Hackney went over the whitewash. A slick, off the top line out on the Enfield five meter line saw the ball spun wide, when more robustly built packs might have attempted to maul it over the line, and Gareth Morgan went over in the far corner. Unlike last week, Hackney’s most Welsh sounding (yet confusingly non-Welsh) back had remembered how to catch a rugby ball and didn’t bin it over the try line.

Hackney lead 5-0 but Enfield came back, enjoying sustained periods of pressure before going over in the corner themselves for an unconverted try, swiftly followed by a penalty as Hackney repeatedly infringed at the ruck. This set the pattern for much of the first half, Hackney doing well with ball in hand but struggling at the breakdown in defense and giving up yards. Some sterling effort kept Enfield out time and time again and the home side had to settle for a second penalty rather than a try, making the half time score 11-5.

In the second half Hackney came close three or four times, yet frustratingly fell short. Enfield continued to threaten and were held up over the try line as well as pushed back by thumping tackles from the likes of Brady, Cohadon and Bouvier. The rugby on display by both sides was physical and expansive and often there were more eyes train on this, a third team fixture, than the first team game on the adjacent pitch.

Despite some frustrating near misses Hackney kept their heads up and were finally rewarded. As the clock ticked over into the 70th minute Colm Brady cut through the midfield and made a scintillating 30m break before throwing a one handed, over the head offload to the supporting Will Howard who diver under the posts. Reay (just) made the conversion with his spade of a boot and it was 11-12. Ten minutes left. Could Hackney hold on?

It was a close run thing. From the restart Enfield won a penalty almost in front of the posts but elected to kick for the corner. A collection of mauls, scrums and two held up tries later and Hackney stole and Enfiled line out on the 5 meter line and Gus Wallbank kicked the ball into touch. Cue some shouting, some hugging and quite a lot of emotion. The Gogs go marching on into the final.