Villagers’ second home game of the season coming off a solid start after winning two and losing one. Hamlets also having experienced a good opening few games, notably a 60 point win over Helderberg, meant that this was always going to be a tight encounter. And tight it was as the game swayed in favour from one team to the other throughout.
From kickoff, similar to last week, Village were all over their opponents. Attacking to the far side Village struggled to break the solid Hamlets defence as they threw everything at the visiting team’s line. After repeated surges at the line finally Hamlets were offered some relief in the form of a penalty.
Hamlets then came back and had their turn at Village. Inexcusably against a team like Hamlets Village missed touch. The ball was gathered, as the crowd held its breath almost knowing what was coming, and passed swiftly to the opposite side of the field for the fullback to chip, collect and offload in the tackle. Quite brilliant to be totally honest, and finished off by the wing in the Village supporters corner. Unbelievable skill and a sign of what was to come. The kick was converted 0-7.
The game then opened up and became what club rugby should be all about as the ball was flung from one side to the other by both sides. At this stage you could see the frustration in the Villager coaches’ eyes as this was exactly what we shouldn’t be doing against a team as dangerous as this as the Villager unforced error rate rose. Full marks though to a young team wanting to entertain the decent sized crowd on the day. Finding themselves in the Hamlets half again and with a lineout in their favour Village did what they do best and drove the Hamlets pack back over their line and finished off the move with Brodie Blows dotting down, who once again had an exceptional game. Clarke converted. 7 all.
Hamlets then went to sleep as Village exerted more pressure. This eventually told as Reece Gregg finished off under the poles following a text book play of phases and the backs doing what was required. 14-7 and at this stage it was all Village.
With 2 minutes to play in the half uncharacteristically Village lock, Kwaks Ngwanya, cynically tapped the ball out of the Hamlets’ scrumhalf’s hand as he was about to take a quick tap. The referee quite rightly sent him to the bin for 10 minutes. This was to be a turning point in the game. Half time 14-7.
The 2nd half kicked off and straight from the kick off Hamlets were on the attack and seemed to have got a stern talking to from their coach at the break as they without doubt upped the intensity against a 14 man Village. With not even the whistle being blown they finished off a neat move from the halfway line and with that were back in the game. 14 all.
From the next kick off, Hamlets now running everything with free abandon and without doubt having the Village boys for pace found space again on the outside and once again displayed some awesome champagne type rugby to finish off. Within 5 minutes the game had changed from all Village to all Hamlets. Unbelievable turn of events. The conversion was missed. 14 – 19.
Village then came back like men possessed and were to have none of this anymore however it didn’t take long for Hamlets to turn one of the Village players over in the Hamlets 22 and once finished off with an exquisite long range try. Incredible stuff from Hamlets who were now playing in a manner that they know best. 14-26 and Village suddenly from nowhere chasing the game.
The one good thing about 3 quick tries is that it still left 30 minutes in the game to catch up. However, being a young side and maybe where senior leadership needed to step in and slow things down the game became even more frenetic and this played right into Hamlets’ hands. Village made an error in the midfield which Hamlets jumped onto and put the nail in the coffin scoring under the posts. The hamlets supporters and band were now going wild this being their first ever visit to Brookside. 14-33.
Full marks to Village as they regained composure, didn’t give up and started again. This resulted in what was and save for 5 minutes more could have been an historic comeback. For the last 20 minutes and like most of the game Village then dominated in possession and territory but struggled to finish off with a number of turning points that just didn’t go the men in whites’ way.
The first comeback try however did eventually come from a clinical lineout drive and finished off by talisman Ashley Clarke. The 2nd started with an extremely exciting talent and youngster on the wing Rafiq September who since coming on had already shown a few dangerous attacking runs. Rafiq gathered the ball in his own half and beat a number of Hamlets defenders for pace, no mean feat, he was then bundled out but somehow managed to get the pass into a Village supporter who then set up the ruck and from the next phase prop Nik Vetsos gathered and boomed over for his fourth try in as many games this season. Clarke unfortunately missed the conversion but the try afforded Village 2 bonus points. Final score 26-33.
Man of the match went to Scotty Pitcher, on the flank, as he was as per normal incredible in carrying and defended like a trojan.
Village have a bye next week and then take on Strand in the Strand the following week.