You would think from the scoreline that this was a demoralising battering, I would contend that the Hackney Phoenix came away feeling proud and enlivened by an entertaining game. Grasshoppers were a quality side who also had the advantage of having a full complement of 15 players on the field and even a sub, they were well drilled and had some players who are clearly good enough to be playing for their next team up. They scored their tries in batches and converted all bar one.

When Grasshoppers weren't going through one of their scoring periods, Hackney competed and battled hard especially in the forwards where every man performed out of their skin, tackling and rucking like men possessed and turning over the ball quite a few times from Grasshoppers strong carriers.

Mullett and Uzo carried like bulls, AJ was seen in midfield taking balls forward despite recently breaking his sternum, new boys Freddie and Harry competed hard in the tight turning over rucks and taking plenty of tight carries, Woody was putting plenty of tackles in (the ref pulled me aside during the second half and said I can't see the forward at the moment but one of them is consistently offside can you have a word, 'Yes sir, I know who it is, we call him offside Jon').

Loz Pollard who was dragged into playing by his flatmate Joe Mitchell the day before was the man of the match with a defensive tackling performance reminiscent of Thierry Dusatoir v the All Blacks in the 2007 World Cup quarter final.

I'll be honest, the oppo took advantage of us in the backs, we had 2 vets who hadn't played for years, 2 colts new to adult rugby and 1 vet who was new to rugby. Grasshoppers showed their experience here but we never gave up. Joe Mitchell in midfield was a rock and forced Grasshoppers to go wide consistently.

We managed to score 3 tries which warmed our souls.

After a sustained period of pressure in the oppo half and 22 we had managed to suck Grasshoppers in enough to leave us with a great opportunity to get some points, Paddy sent out a sublime pass to your correspondent, Uzo ran a hard line just outside me pulling their defence in leaving me with 3 men outside to pick from against a spread defence, a long pass to Yassine saw him waltz over the try line for our first score, duly converted.

The second score was from a scrum around our 10m line, Uzo picked and went from the back of the scrum down the blind side on a storming run fending tackles as he went to go over in the corner, your reporter had pulled his hamstring converting the previous try so Yassine stepped up and drop kicked the ball from the right hand touchline, he didn't convert but did get imaginary bonus points for hitting the crossbar. Apparently someone heard Uzo calling for oxygen after he grounded the ball, this report has yet to be confirmed.

The final try came after a sustained period of pressure in the oppo 22 where the Grasshoppers showed great D to keep us out over a decent period of time but somehow Yassine managed to pick and go from a ruck and swerved his way through some covering tackles to go over to the left of the posts, he then punted over his conversion. If he can learn to kick off a tee he will rack up a lot of goal points for Hackney.

I would like to thank Grasshoppers for a great game and their post match hospitality, despite the scoreline we felt we were competitive for some good periods.

I would especially like to thank the excellent referee who was called up 2 hours beforehand after the originally scheduled ref pulled out, he cycled 2 hours from Dorking, got off his bike and then to prove his fitness further showed all the players on the pitch that he was easily the fittest man there with 80 minutes of great officiating.

As for the Phoenix, 14 men took the pitch, 7 vets including 1 who hadn't played rugby before and 3 returning from a long fallow period, 2 colts new to adult rugby a total of 7 men new to Hackney RFC, we never let our heads drop, we kept battling, there were periods where we put great pressure on the oppo and there were some excellent individual skills. We have things to work on, changing from offense to defense on a turnover being the main one but more importantly we have a lot of positives to take away and build on in what will hopefully be a rewarding season.

This September Hackney's friendly playing Champagne 4th XV were reborn as the league playing Hackney Phoenix (4th XV).