Stubborn against Staines
By Angus Crawford
Great in attack - great in defence
I don’t know what they do to the opposition - but they scare the living daylights out of me. Three years against our boys often looked like lambs to the slaughter, now on the whole I worry about the players who aren’t wearing Hampstead shirts
Time keeping may not be their strong point, but they did all eventually turn up and unplugged themselves from what I think Dan calls their Instafacesnap. And what a line up! A lot of the old (just more grizzled, semi bearded) faces - and some great new additions. I think we had 23 players - though given that I now have to crane my neck to check who they are I may have double counted. A special shout out (I think that’s what they say) to Jaylin for coming to watch despite being weeks out of surgery to remove several metal screws from his ankle - he made a fine, if slow water boy. Hope to have him back on the pitch after xmas.
Two weeks ago bog snorkelling would have been a better idea than rugby. By Sunday the pitches had gone back to being rock hard - with grass that looked like it had been cut with nail scissors.
Often our lot don’t wake up until about half time, I still wonder about bringing a cappuccino maker to matches. But with the blood curdling threats of Colin, Dan and Steve ringing in their ears the boys tore into Staines. And they are a useful outfit, one of the best teams in the Division, who beat Saracens B, you may remember who pipped us to the Div 5 title last season. By rights we were the underdogs.
But we had some sharp plays and good hands - our centres punching through their line. Our tackling scarily good at times. It seemed inevitable that we should score first - Campbell taking a break from knocking down everything in blue to dive over.
Then possibly the best try I have ever seen Hampstead score - from a tricky position just outside our 22, Matthew floated a ball over the defence - as it hung in the air I could hear Zak’s twin turbos spooling up to full speed - overtaking their fullback, juggling the ball for maximum dramatic effect he powered on over to score. Defence into devastating attack. A thing of beauty. The try, obviously, not Zak.
Jake not wanting to be left out of the party dotted down after more extraordinary work through the line - followed by a classic scrum try from rumbling, rolling Oscar.
20 minutes gone, 22 to nil. So that’s all good then.
After slight loss of concentration by the boys in ham and cheese (probably in anticipation of the half time oranges) Staines sneaked a try in the corner on the stroke of the end of the first period .A superb conversion giving them hope for the next 35 minutes.
A rousing team talk and some fabulous defence left Hampstead in a winning position. The game flowed from end to end, Staines just getting the better of it and narrowing the gap to one score. With just ten minutes to go - nerves and tempers became a little frayed - and on the pitch too. Then up popped our marauding lock Alec - who normally specialises in falling from the sky like a winged avenger on hapless wingers - this time he picked his moment to score a vital 5 points.
The boys held out against a stubborn Staines (sorry, couldn’t resist) and finished the match just a metre from their line.
At the final whistle - a blood curling shout from the team - a sign of just how much it meant to the boys and why I’m still right to be just a little scared of them.
Two matches - two wins - 10 points - 2nd in the division. Job done.