This was one of those games - where you have to go looking for positives to take away - but once you’ve found them you see there are positives indeed. 


Eighteen Gogs made the trip to St Albans for the away fixture against our neighbours in the Merit Table - neighbours who effected a significant reversal at Spring Hill earlier in the season. 


It became clear early on that a tough day was in store, in particular for the brave but untested front three, Simon Ferguson, Darren Griffin, and Uzo Uyanwune, in the scrum. 


A more experienced and more organised pack had Hackney going backwards on both their own ball and ours - although only a single scrum was lost against the head. 


Battle-hardened, the pack ought to build on this experience for the rest of the season, and should do well in games when circumstances and the terrain are (literally) less uphill. 


Despite being under the cosh at the set-piece it was the Gogs who drew first blood. Although others had a hand in it the plaudits belong with Uzo who, with ball in hand, remains a one-man wrecking ball. Hanton added the extras for a good start. 


Much of the first half was spent in defence and Old Vs were kept out by committed fringe work by Ben Graham and Freddy Kelly, as well as the entire back line. 


A crack did appear when a bobble of the ball in a defensive 5-metre scrum saw it come out the wrong side and a burly Old Vs runner make it over the line despite the attentions of Matt Fielden.


The other Gogs’ highlight of the half came from Rich Shorey. In what is proving to be a strong season for Shorey, the terrier on the wing chased and hacked a loose ball through, combining footwork and a dive to score. Or so it seemed until the man in the middle adjudged the ball to have gone dead. 


All square at half-time and all to play for - but to do so would require more aggressive defence and more discipline at the break down. Alas both would ultimately elude the Gogs in a stop-start second half. 


Old Vs took the lead soon into that half - another runner crashing over. And their upper hand at scrum spread to the breakdown also where they adapted better than Hackney to the conditions. 


A twenty minute stoppage in play owing to an injury that needed an ambulance also did us no favours. The fallen Verulamian was stoic despite his ankle pointing in the wrong direction. 


The best of the second half for the Gogs came from the worst of circumstances. Down to 13 men for 10 minutes or so they drew the period 7-7. 


The first of two yellows saw Hanton cool his heels after a tackle adjudged to be his second that was high. Perhaps desirous that his captain not be lonely, Jon Wood effected a trip that was clumsy rather than malicious but nonetheless went to the bin. 


Old Vs got the expected try but Hackney scored too thanks to the combination of talents and wills of Faulkner and Reay. After the latter put us in the corner from a penalty, Faulkner cleaned up scrappy line-out ball and charged over. Reay iced the cake. 


Determination in defence, with Kelly, amongst others, again being strong, held Old Vs out until the Gogs were back to full strength. But an afternoon of heart took its toll and as the day closed in Old Vs closed out the game. 


The score line reflects the worthy winners - if it also reflects harshly on a gutsy Gogs performance. Resilience and togetherness under strain remain our hallmarks and in that regard, if no other, this was sterling work.