You have to feel for anyone who comes and watches the Gogs. Either they are long suffering partners or injured regulars who show up to support (and join in the bar afterwards). Either way this was not a week to be standing on a touchline and we appreciate those that did.

It was cold. We say this most weeks, but this was next level cold. The middle of Regents Park, pouring rain, a couple of weeks before Christmas, players running late. Everything was racking up. 

The new rules (laws) of this league means a 14 point deficit is added if you do not have a front row. A big thank you to my other team London Japanese who lent us a few players to up our numbers. Its always fun playing with those guys. 

A last minute sign up raised a few eyebrows. Mr Tom Jepps had managed to arrange to be at a birthday party for his fiance in London but somehow managed to squeeze in 80 minutes for us, as well as a number 8 shirt (with some help). The guy loves a run. Show him a gap and he will run right towards the men on the edges of it. Sorry, contact. I meant the guy loves contact.

The game begun quite optimistically. The wind was behind us and we were able to build some sustained pressure. A few clever kicks meant that Belsize were being pinned back and having to do most of the work. An early penalty from Matt Hanton put us on the score board and rewarded the Gogs for sustained pressure and presence in the Belsize 22. Belsize came back and a few slow to react defence moves and pacy outside backs meant that Belsize scored twice by running around the outside. That more of less set the game out of reach quite early on. Belsize were deserved winners. They scored a couple of early tries that along with an extra 14 points and freezing weather was hard to pick up and come back from. 

The only Hackney try came from a clearance kick that started from our own 22. With a bounce and the wind behind it ended up going into touch near the Belsize 22. An eager quick throw from the Belsize winger to a fullback that wasn't expecting it meant that the loose ball was picked up Chris Reay and slide over the line in front of the posts. (Matt Hanton, it literally couldn't be more on a plate). The conversion pushed just wide. 

The game ended with an unflattering scoreline of 64 - 8. Needless to say the tunnel was done the quickest I have seen in history with players sprinting through and on to the changing rooms. Hackney go on into the Xmas break with a few things to work on an a continuing recruitment drive for front rows.

Player Ratings:

1. Dave Huxley - A recent return to the big number 8 and perhaps he has found a new position at loose head? Always a big tackler and voice on the pitch. 9/10

2. Tom Gluckstein - I've never seen anyone look so natural in the front row. Surely a position to grow into each week 9/10

3. Sam Dunford-Baker - I heard so many comments from the touchline saying 'wow, he must have been playing prop for years he is so good at it'. Never a truer word told. 9/10

4. Jon Wood - Brought his usually tally of offsides down to single figures. Real progress being shown there. 7/10

5. Grege Greger - Scarily good tackler. Made lots. Carried lots. Hurt them lots. Thumbs up. 9/10

6. Yass Salhi - The man, the myth, the legend. Has a great side step. Just needs to twin it with a forward step and he would be unstoppable. 7/10

7. Kieran Murray - Utility back, utility forward. Is there anything this man can't do? Nobody said prop did they? Excellent, will put him forward for selection next week. 7/10

8. Tom Jepps - Loves the contact but also helped out mates in a tight spot. Loves a grubber, but also tell you about the good things he did during the game too. A good shift 8/10

9. Charlie Parker - Got whiplash from one crash tackle but in double time was back with some snare and dictated the tempo. 8/8

10. Chris Reay - Made 1 run. Scored. 11/10

11. Rob Weil - Blatent disregard for his own Weilbeing when tackling. Lots of pace and big hitter in defence. 7/10

12. Matt Hanton - Uncharacteristic misses from the boot this week but the usual sass and anger on the pitch. 7/10

13. Joe Mitchell - Usually Matt's calming presence on the pitch. Keeping the other side of the centres in safe hands. Didn't get much of the ball though this week. Not when Mr Jepps was in town. 7/10

14. Tom Moody - Back from a break. I assume somewhere with a beach and surfing. Always getting stuck in. 7/10

15. James Davis - The most polite man the Gogs have to offer. How he sees the lines he runs I don't have a clue but ends up slicing the defence in half. 7/10


Tom Hopper - Not a day you'd want to be a sub. A good injection of energy on a day where heads were quickly dropping. 7/10

A big thank you to the London Japanese boys who got stuck in. I'm sure you regretted it when the weather kicked in. Big shift from the lot of you. Much appreciated.