Hackney vs Hammersmith & Fulham

 

The day began with a leadership conference call about who would replace the injured Matt Fielden in the technically demanding position of scrum half. Answer: 40-year-old front-rower Damian Bouvier.   

However, the undoubtedly sound reasoning supporting this decision collided with reality during the warm-up game of touch, in which Damian had some understandable difficulties remembering an entirely skill set last utilised many years ago.  

We cast around for ideas. Eyes looked to the bench. Hawkes: another prop. Once bitten, twice shy. Crockett: Keeley: the young wing replacement seemed to be the only alternative. Had he ever played there? Yes he had. For large parts of his youth. The show could go on. 

Any concerns that this fixture would be a repeat of last year’s 115-0 horror show were dispelled within the first few minutes. The Gargoyles caught the kick-off before Adam Murphy chased down an accidental up-and-under, winning a scrum near halfway. 

Hackney looked good in attack but struggled to find the scoring pass. Hammersmith made a number of breaks down the flanks, but either dropped it or were thwarted by the cover defence. One on occasion, the youthful Hammersmith winger believed himself to be to have the gas to sprint in from 30 metres, only to be stalked by the veteran 36 year Hackney captain. (H&F didn’t realise that T'Challa was Hackney man) We laughed. 

We laughed less when it came to the lineouts, where Hammersmith had the Gargoyles number on virtually every occasion. The reasons for this were unclear, but some might say the writing was on the wall when the Gargoyles had failed to win a single lineout in the (unopposed) team run.

We did win 1 line out on our own 5, the ball flew like a loft arrow true and straight into the levitating Toms hands a beautiful moment which need no more text to gild the lily.

Hammersmith eventually got on the scoreboard through a penalty from in front of the posts and in the process injuring the Johnny C behind the sticks (wasn’t he on the bench at the time). Hackney responded with a well-worked midfield move which saw King make a half-break before offloading to Lloyd, who in turn slipped the ball inside to Murphy to score. Hackney scrambled through the rest of the half, and turned around 7-3 up. 

Frasier having a heavy previous night at the Barr subbed off and lighten the load on the sideline.

The second half began badly. The first restart went out on the full, and a series of errors let Hammersmith score to make it 8-7. Hackney were soon in the shadow of their own posts again. However, Hammersmith knocked on and there followed some madness, which began with a cross-field kick, and ended 60 yards later with two Hammersmith players tackling each other.  

In the spirit of camaraderie Damien was treated to birthday beats on the side line from the Hammersmith Scrum half, with a gift-wrapped penalty

This jolted Hackney back into gear. After some patient phases in midfield, Lloyd hit a sizzling line through the Hammersmith defence and sped in at the corner. In what became a theme of the afternoon, King missed the conversion.  

Then came the match’s crucial moment. Hammersmith suddenly found themselves with a four man overlap on their own ten metre line and a chance to wrest back control of the match. Paralysed by the abundance of options available to him, the fly half sought to put the ball over the sole Hackney defender. However, he hadn’t reckoned with the static jump of Alex Mills. Leaping like a salmon, the elder Mills sibling plucked the ball from the skies and cantered in near the posts. The conversion sailed characteristically wide.  

At 17-8 up with twelve minutes left, it appeared this would be of little consequence. Hackney set about putting together 20 phases of exceptionally boring rugby to wind down the clock. But Hammersmith recovered possession inches from their try-line through some outrageous cheating and cleared to half-way.  

Hammersmith then knocked on. However, the fastidious referee penalized Hackney for pointing this out to him, giving possession back to the visitors. For the majority of the afternoon, the Gargoyles had parked the Fun Bus, coping easily with the Hammersmith carrying game. But a sudden burst of pace and power from a Hammersmith forward had the Fun Bus reversing at speed in the concession of another try. With five minutes left and a two-point lead, this was a movie the Gargoyles had all seen before.

However, the lessons of Ealing had been learned. The home side’s discipline was exemplary, and Hammersmith’s final attack fizzled out to give the Gargoyles their first win of the season.

 

Player Ratings:

Tom Addenbrooke: can prop. 10/10. Alexander "Alex" Summers

Spencer Elliot: doesn’t bank money; does bank yards. 9/10. Dr. Henry Philip "Hank" McCoy

Leo Glass: pane in the oppo’s neck. 10/10 Bruce Banner

Lawrence Homewood: outstanding catching of restarts 9/10 St. John Allerdyce 

Grege Greger: everything suggests it shouldn’t work, but it does. Really, really well.0/10 Remy Etienne LeBeau

Arran Ferguson: scrabbly irritant in defence and at the breakdown 9/10 JamesHowlett

Fraser Barr: withdrawn at half-time through illness 9/10 Lucas Bishop

Ricardo Duberry (c): outrageous cover tackles never get old 9/10 T'Challa

Ruairidh Keeley: please mention your specialist skills more than 20 mins before kick-off. Probably props too. 10/10. Wade Winston Wilson

Charlie King: you could say that the radar was off, but recent evidence suggests there simply is no radar. 5/10 Charles Francis Xavier

Charlie Williams: put his body on the line. Get well soon. 10/10. Max Eisenhardt

James Thistlethwaite: massively overrated 4/10. Cain Marko

 Alex Mills: Doesn’t have the deft offloads, range of passing, pace, height, kicking game, or looks of his younger brother, but he knew a match-winning opportunity when he saw it. 10/10. Warren Worthington III  

Adam Murphy: great support line for his try. 9/10. Piotr "Peter" Nikolayevich Rasputin

PJ Lloyd: give him a single opportunity, and he’ll score every time. 10/10. Pietro Maximoff

Damian Bouvier: 22 years older than his youngest teammate. Still winning. 10/10. Matt Murdock

Jack Jones: a rare sight at this level: a man who both looks like he can do rugby, and who actually can do rugby. 9/10 Kurt Wagner

James Hawkes: didn’t get the run out at 9 he was hankering for, but carried hard in the back row 9/10 Victor Creed

Jonny Crockett: nasty injury whilst discharging his touch judging duties. Get well soon. 9/10. Robert Louis "Bobby" Drake









James Hawkes flanker