Captain Hanton shines for Hackney IIs

Friendly: Old Cooperians II 12 Hackney II 20

Hackney’s second team made the most of their chance to blow away the cobwebs with a hard-fought win against an Old Cooperians second string in Upminster on Saturday.

With the league schedule combined with the recent bad weather throwing up a five-week gap in the Gargoyles’ fixture list, the team headed to Essex for the friendly match.

Although the visitors’ pre-match plan was to take advantage of a sunny day and play as expansively as possible, the game’s early exchanges were dominated by the boot, with Matt Hanton’s kicking along with pressure from the back row pinning Old Cooperians inside their own 22 for the first 10 minutes.

The Gargoyles then lost Dave Huxley to a pulled hamstring, being replaced by Gavin du Preez and having achieved good field position the Hackney backs too over.

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Fine interplay from Jack Silverthorn, Arif Saad and Tim Cox down the right led to Hanton running in a converted try under the posts.

Despite the Old Cooperians back row disrupting a lot of Hackney ball at the breakdown, the visiting backs continued to see more of the ball.

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However, Hackney were punished when Old Cooperians drove over from a lineout five metres out, bringing the score to 7-5.

Hanton then added to his tally for the afternoon, converting a penalty as Hackney led 10-5 at the break.

The second half saw a change in the back row for the visitors as Blair Gray came on and barrelling runs up the middle from centre Guy Halfhead allowed scrum-half Owain Hughes and Hanton to kick for territory and keep the pressure on the Old Cooperians defence.

This pressure then paid off when Silverthorn was put in space and rounded his opposite man before unselfishly passing to Kim Fitzgerald to score Gargoyles’ second try.

Old Cooperians then brought the score back to 17-12 with 20 minutes to go, when quick hands fed the ball out and around the sluggish Hackney defence.

However, another penalty from Hanton put the result to bed before Hackney welcomed Ulrik Westen-Jansen onto the pitch for the first time since suffering a serious injury in the first league game of the season.

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