A slight breeze and manicured pitch in the autumnal splendour of a resplendent Spring Hill set the scene. It was the first time in five years that the Griffins hosted Harrow for what was to become an enthralling match. The visitors arrived early, eager for a change of fortunes to what has been a difficult start to their season.


Hackney kicked off into the wind and were met with a high octane brand of rugby that stretched their defence. Harrow used their athletic and skilled pack to truck it up as well as put it wide in the early exchanges and found themselves in Hackney territory faster than you can say “10 - 12 loop, skip”.


Under all sorts of pressure Hackney managed to repel attacking ball but not without infringing. The visitors went for the corner only for their maul to be halted in it’s tracks before being given a second bite of the cherry moments later for a repeated infringement. On this occasion they decided to take a gift three points in front of the uprights.


It was more of the same from the ensuing kick off as the ambitious Harrow put the ball through the hands at every given opportunity although Hackney had started to wise up and were containing their opponents marginally better. From the back of a scrum on the half way line the visitors went down the blind side and fed it to their hungry looking winger. I say hungry because I’ve seen more meat on a butcher’s apron. Not to be held back by his lack of gains the determined speedster broke through three (bloody) tackles to score in the corner. The successful conversion left the score at 10 – 0.


Hackney responded with an earnest chase to the restart and found themselves in possession in their opponent’s half. Purposeful carries from the pack created space out wide and slick hands found winger PJ Lloyd. Lloyd put the afterburners on to scorch past his man before drawing and giving to Sean Conner who gratefully touched down under the posts.


Hackney reclaimed the kick off and again the forwards found gaps in the defensive line, Cian McDonagh running the elusive tip line. In almost a carbon copy to their first try Lloyd found himself cutting the defence to ribbons before putting Tom Gardner through for his first try in Griffin’s colours. Gardner quickly learning from his mentor, “Follow the play, it will come your way”. The conversion was slotted and Hackney were in the lead 14 – 10.


Harrow pegged back another three points before Hackney scored from a tap penalty 10 metres out. Fraser Tait putting the hammer down to blast through the goal line defence. Hackney had created some breathing space with an eight-point lead as half time approached but this would not last. A clearing kick took a deflection kinder than Mother Teresa into the hands of an onrushing Harrow player who dotted down to bring the scores back to the slimmest of margins, 21 – 20 to the hosts.


Hackney started the brighter of the two teams in the second half resulting in a brilliant try finished off by debutant Ultan Murphy. Full back Will Kennard found himself faced with congested traffic so threaded a worm burner through with Murphy winning the foot race. The conversion again gave Hackney a two score lead at 28 – 20.


As the game wore on Hackney looked fitter and were subduing their opponent's attack that now had all the surprise factor of a Russian election. Harrow were let back into the game however when Sam Alderson was binned for a high tackle reminiscent of something out of Monday Night Raw.


This momentum shifter roused the visiting fans who tried to get into the heads of the Hackney men. Hooker Dave Lewis was forced to appeal to the referee as one fan bleated in his ear at line-out time while another silver tongued fan said winger Lloyd had “skinny arms”. One has to assume that the recent rat invasion of Harrow has put the locals under a lot of undue stress.


It took them a while but Harrow made use of their extra man to pick up another five pointer, albeit their kicker missing the conversion for the first time all day.


A tense final 10 minutes saw Hackney camped in their opposition 22 only for a break against the run of play found the Griffins defending in their own half. The home side were penalised for panning illegally at a ruck and the Harrow kicker nailed the clutch 40 metre penalty close to the touchline, cheered on by their courteous and affable supporters.


This reprieve would be short lived as Hackney once again disrupted the restart, giving themselves one last throw of the dice. With each passing phase Hackney made yards, knowing that one error would bring the game to a close. They shifted the ball from coast to coast, flirting with the touchline as they attempted to manipulative Harrow’s defence. Supporters were on the edge of their proverbial seats as Hackney chipped away at the now punch-drunk opposition. Determined carries sucked in Harrow defenders until the ball was spun wide to Kennard who glided over unopposed to hand Hackney the win.


It wasn't the prettiest or most convincing of wins for the home outfit but certainly a well needed one. Next week the Griffins travel to Hampstead in the hope of extending their winning streak to two.