Regents park was the setting for Hackney’s away game against Belsize Park, and with a strong team out, optimism abound, and a hoard of exotic animals only a stones throw away to offer inspiration in spades, one of the Gargoyles best 40 minutes of rugby this season was followed by one of their most frustrating, as they found themselves on the end of a 24-7 defeat.

And so to that first half. Where to begin? Well, the African wild dog is a specialised pack hunter of common medium-sized antelope, which is a fitting analogy for how Hackney's defence operated in the opening spell of the game, embodied by the hard-hitting Ed Wander and Somebi Ejikeme, who hunted their proverbial antelope with real menace to set the tone early on. Finding themselves playing against the wind, defence would be a key theme for Hackney throughout the first half, having to weather several prolonged periods of pressure from the opposition. However, sustained strong defence, and a kangaroo like presence in the lineout from Johnny Crockett, saw Hackney hold firm during this period.

The jerboa, a tiny, bipedal desert rodent, uses a variety of locomotion styles to produce hard to follow moves, that make them much more unpredictable than the movements of other small desert rodents. When Hackney were able to enjoy some possession of their own, the backline channeled their inner jerboa’s, with Alex Mills able to make some telling breaks, and Charlie King and Alex Lee combining to create space out wide, however the finishing touch was lacking. Eventually, a half break from the aforementioned Waters was, not unlike the cooperative behaviour commonly observed among meerkat colonies, well supported by the ever-impressive Tom Addenbroke, to open the scoring under the posts for Hackney after some brilliant sustained pressure, with King applying the extras for a 7-0 lead.

During mating season, male lemurs battle for territorial dominance by trying to “outstink” each other, and if we were to apply this analogy to the final stages of the first half, Belsize were definitely outstinking Hackney. The pressure finally told in the last play of the half, when repeated 5-metre scrums resulted in Belsize levelling the scores with a well taken try, to leave the sides at 7-7 at the halfway point.

With the wind in their favour in the second half, Hackney fancied themselves to continue their strong start and push on in the second half, however it would be Belsize who would take the early initiative, nabbing an early penalty and close range try to put themselves 17-7 ahead. The Gorilla is listed as the 4th strongest animal in the world, behind the diminutive leafcutter ant in 3rd, demonstrating that size is not everything, a lesson that Spencer Elliot, out of position at prop, clearly channeled, as Hackneys strong set piece was keeping them in the game, regularly pushing their bigger front row counterparts backwards. Midway through the second half Hackney enjoyed a sustained period of pressure in opposition territory, however despite a series of penalties kicked to the corner, were unable to convert this into points, a period which ultimately decided the game.

 

Endemic to the remote Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, red crabs embark on a seasonal migration, and every year during breeding season, anywhere from 40 million to 120 million crabs are believed to blanket the island, and during peak migration roads must often be closed. With the number of substitutes Belsize were able to call upon, Hackney began to empathise with the Christmas Island locals, and were unable to recover after their setback. The scoring wasn’t yet done, with a fantastic solo try from Belsize park that wrapped up the scoring at 24-7.

There were plenty of positives to take away for the Gargoyles, who regardless of the final score put in a great effort all game.

 

  1. Spencer Elliot - 9/10 - more than held his own in the scrum and tackled all day. Needs to spend less of his free time with Arran.
  2. Ed Waters - 9.5/10 - hard tackles, hard carries, hard to keep up with during fitness drills on Wednesdays.
  3. Tom Addenbrooke - 9/10 - used all of his 38 years of experience to dominate the scrum, bagged a try, all in a days’ work. 
  4. Jack Burton - 8/10 - carried hard, scrummaged well, kept going all day. 
  5. Somebi Ejikeme - 8.5/10 - kept the massive tackles coming all game long to keep Hackney in the game.
  6. Arran Ferguson - 5/10 - loses 4 marks for punctuality but gains 1 for playing through the headache admirably.
  7. Johnny Crockett - 8/10 – Had his opposite number on toast so many times that the opposition were asking what was going on. As Xavi quipped, "C'est Crock, monsieur". 
  8. Ricardo Dubery - 8/10 - some excellent carries in the loose and reportedly gave away no penalties at the break down. Astonishing and unlikely. 
  9. Xavier Brune - 8/10 - the slickest service at the club. Probably too good for this level. 
  10. Charlie King - 8/10 - creative kick-off almost led to a wonder try from the opposition. 
  11. James Austin - 8.5/10 – played very well but thwarted by some annoyingly good cover defence.
  12. Alex Lee - 11/10 - what a player and great beard. 
  13. Alex Mills - 9/10 – very silky running and offloading but ALL, IN, VAIN.
  14. Laurie Benson - 8/10 – kept on running hard and tackled well but not a day for the wingers.
  15. Robbie Heighway - 8/10 – Some strong running and laid down the law in the back field. You breach the Heighway Code at your peril. 
  16. Shaun Rooke - 8/10 - front row replacement duties fulfilled with aplomb. Also weekends in Puerto Rico. 
  17. Hugh Price - 8/10 - some nice raids down the wing, extra mark for watching Wales lose with dignity.