15 games. 15 wins. 14 bonus points. It was time to right a wrong…

Before beginning to recount the match, a clarification of the scoring rules. The original wording from the 1862 Rugby School Rules dictated that:

“The object of the game is to kick the ball through the adversary’s goal, only after a ‘touch down in goal.”

As such, no points were awarded for a try, with a solitary goal given for every successful kick. However, what is less known is sub-clause 8.6 of the rules which states:

“A player that successfully kicks the ball at the posts shall be awarded 32 points for sheer audacity and wonder of boot”

And sub-clause 9.4 which reads:

“If a player successfully hook-volleys a cross-field kick around 2 defenders at pace before running onto it to touch down over the in-goal area in less than 4.2 seconds, then 5 points shall be awarded”

Some fairly niche laws I’m sure you’ll agree but, given the RFU’s new mandate to return to the original scoring system, laws that would indeed play a major role in this game…

Following the John “Toowoomba I” Tully’s view that cheetahs don’t warm up before killing gazelles, Hitchin turned up just before the first whistle and strolled onto the pitch ready to go. However straight from kick-off Hackney applied pressure and within 3 minutes Conner had crossed the line to give Hackney their first shot at goal. O’Hara with the kick to make it 1-0 to the Griffins.

Hackney were immediately on the front foot again, the Dunloppapotamus crashing through 3 “tackles” that brought back the days of the revolving door centres of Hackney 1st teams gone past. O’Hara doubling the lead. 2-0 to the mighty Griffins.

The ferocious start from Hackney continued with Dave ‘Toowoomba II’ Akkersdyke dotting down in front of the posts. At this stage, with Hackney well on top, the signal was given by PJ to ‘aim for the posts’. Alas O’Hara missed. 2-0 it remained.

More pressure from a Hackney scrum that was proving exceptionally resilient in the face of a VERY large Hitchin front row. In fact it was operating so effectively that Bowers elected for a 5 metre scrum when over the try line by choosing to put the ball onto a Hitchin player rather than the ground. The resultant scrum gave Watmore the chance to touch down under the posts and give O’Hara a much simpler kick. Very canny from the former skipper. An athlete he may not be, but a finer thinker of the game there surely is not. Sadly, in spite of a simply wonderful demonstration of ‘the confident jog’, the posts rattled not.

With little to do in rural Hertfordshire, it is no wonder that Hitchin had taken the time to study the sub-clauses and put into place a truly splendid move. The cross-field was kicked, the ball was hook-volleyed, the stop-watch showed 3.9 seconds. A well-deserved 5 points for Hitchin. With no goal or post for the Hitchin kicker, the score stood at 2-5 to Hitchin.

Hackney knew they had their work cut out. Chamberlain, mysteriously on the pitch in the 22nd minute, added another touch down shortly after, and with O’Hara nursing an injury that required some treatment from the physio, Watmore saw his chance. Alas, his first rangefinder missed both posts, dissecting them perfectly, pulling a goal back for Hackney. 3-5 stood the scores, until a 2nd try from Toowoomba II gave Watmore just the chance he needed, with his kick from in front hitting the right post in a fashion that today’s youth may describe as ‘on fleek’. 35-5 to Hackney and a tall order faced by Hitchin.

With minutes to go before half-time the Dunloppapotamus scored his 2nd in front. A flurry of steps, the ball flying through the air…Bang. Hackney now 67-5 clear and not even-half-time. Just before the break Toowoomba II capped a strong display with a 3rd try. As everyone knows, this gave him the honour of buying some beers for the lads in Mascara bar after the game. Naturally, he duly accepted.

It is oft difficult to maintain precision and intensity in the 2nd half where you go into half-time at 67-5, but Hackney are a fairly professional unit these days. Hackney were even forced to show their defensive mettle, withstanding an 8 minute spell in their own 22 following good pressure from the visitors. This featured a couple of trademark big hits from Fraser, who unlike his previous game against Hitchin, operated above ‘chocolate fire-grate’ level.

Some more strong scrummaging and mauling from the Hackney pack produced great field territory. A 3rd Dunlop try also gave him the chance to buy some beers for his brethren after the game. Naturally, he duly declined. O’Hara resumed kicking duties and successfully extended Hackney’s lead to 68-5.

Sadly this was all the points that were to be awarded on this fine day. However the action did not end there. Mike Ward rewarded a fine substitute performance with a well-deserved touch down of his own. With the angle tight, and the distance great, up stepped Pete Smith. Following some Jamie Redknapp-esque quotes from some esteemed club members such as “he throws his boot at it” and “he literally has a cannon of a foot”, Smith decided that the crowd had come to see running rugby and settled for a gentlemanly nudge of the ball in the general direction of the Hitchin players. Good form sir.

There was just time for 1 more incident of note. PJ scored yet another try before deciding to invent his own game called “kick the ball along the floor”. It’s unlikely to catch on this side of the Irish Sea…

A final score of 68-5 to Hackney then was just rewards for a highly professional game played with great skill of boot, strength of pack, and fortitude of mind.

16 games. 16 wins. 15 Bonus Points.

Today we spell redemption: H.A.C.K.N.E.Y.