Thursday night lights and the longest ever post game tunnel


Harlow invited us to their very impressive brand new facility for a ceremonious opening game, with what seemed like most of the people of Harlow Town coming out expecting to witness the visitors being treated like the sacrificial champagne bottle smashed against a ship before its maiden voyage for good luck.


20 minutes pre-game the contrast couldn't be sharper; while Harlow's 38 man squad went through a intense warm up, Hackney just about counted up 15 bodies, went looking for a pump for their deflated warm up balls and asked to borrow some water bottles.


A expected the home side looked more switched on in the first quarter, benefitting from a weighted chip through to open the scoring which was followed by a combination of strong running from their center and soft tackling set up try number 2 while debutant Jonny Shields sat in the sin bin for committing the last of a series of penalties in Hack's own 22. Gradually though as possession was found the London outfit got into the game, Pete Smith suddenly cut through the defence with a delightful line but having done the hard work was struck by what seemed to be a pathological fear of the try line and slowed to crawling speed with no one around and was dragged down a yard short. Hackney were soon rescued by one of last season's best performers who hasn't been seen at pre-season much (like a few others) - A. Maul who opened the away sides account.


Moments later a superb Will Kennard break from full back set up Jonny Shields to get just deserts for many great carries and taking a yellow card for the team. In the second half Hackney really cut loose, from the kick off man of the match Cian McDonagh took command of the high ball and used his quick feet to beat the initial chaser. From there some great handling and off loads got the ball out wide to captain PJ Lloyd who kicked ahead and easily ate up the 10 yard head start the full back had on him to re-gather the bouncing ball without breaking stride to grab his first for the season.


The east Londoners couldn't match the quantity of Harlow's army of replacements, but the double trouble of Tom Jepps and Dan Worth certainly provided impact from the bench. Jepps found himself on the end of yet another beautiful Charlie King pass to finish a slick backline move, while Worth moved his little legs at speed to scamper home from 30 yards out. With the game all but over as contest, Ludo Bathgate was unfortunate to complete the quirk of both debutants going to the sin bin, a small black mark on an otherwise impressive performance from the scrum half. The hosts then grabbed a consolation as their winger rounded the defence and took out the elderly touch judge on route to scoring in the corner.


Overall a very encouraging performance from a side put under pressure due to a lack of preparation afforded for a evening game. Especially from the forwards with Ricky Duberry impressing and Ben Sudell carrying relentlessly to set up the platform for the half backs to excel. With the light there must also be dark, even under those Thursday night lights, and with great sadness we say au revoir to Pierre who played his last game with us. All the best for the future fresh