Hackney begin pre-season with impressive victory against rivals Millwall

Pre-season friendly: Hackney RFC 47 Millwall RFC 5

Hackney Rugby Club’s 1st XV opened their 2012-13 season with a resounding friendly victory at home to local rivals Millwall on Saturday.

The Griffins’ starting line-up included a number of new players keen to show their potential for the upcoming league season in Herts/Middlesex One, and in perfect rugby conditions, it was the home side who started the stronger.

Hackney chased the opening kick of the game with real vigour, putting the visitors under pressure, and the aggressive start paid off as Ben Chamberlain scored under the posts following good work by second row Dave Huxley, with fly-half Alex O’Hara slotting the subsequent conversion.

The early score seemed to wake Millwall into action, and the Isle of Dogs outfit responded with strong attacks of their own, but it wasn’t long before Hackney were back on top, scoring tries through debutants Kazeen Olayimka and Paul Baker.

Soon after, another debutant got his name on the scoresheet, when Jason Ouston popped up on the wing after good phase work by the forwards, stretching to touch the ball down while riding a strong tackle, with O’Hara once again adding the extras with his boot.

The Griffins finished the half much the stronger side, however Millwall regrouped at half time and immediately place the Hackney defence under more pressure after the interval.

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And the visitors finally breached the home side’s rearguard with a smart chip-and-chase from just outside the 22 allowing Millwall to touch down in the corner.

Hackney stepped up their defensive organisation and line speed, and managed to reply almost immediately, as Tam McFayden finished powerfully for a try.

Arif Said fulfilled the promise he showed over the close season as he crossed the whitewash, while hooker Charles Bailey lit up the second half with an immense turn of pace to run 40 yards down the touchline, showing a clean pair of heels to the scrambling defence to score.

O’Hara successfully slotted the conversion, taking his rate to six from seven, but it was debutant scrum-half Chris Sorlie who took the man of the match award, as he bossed the pack and tackled strongly while producing quick and clean ball for the backs to work with.

Hackney begin their league campaign on September 15, when they face Bank of England RFC at home.