Hackney halt losing streak and take revenge on UCS Old Boys

Hackney's Matt Strong races away to score his second try against UCS Old Boys at Saracens' Allianz P

Hackney's Matt Strong races away to score his second try against UCS Old Boys at Saracens' Allianz Park. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hackney’s mini-blip is over after a 53-14 victory over UCS Old Boys brought their three-match losing streak to an end.

Matt Strong and Ben Chamberlain both ran in two tries as the Griffins completed a home-and-away league double at Saracens’ Allianz Park – just weeks after losing to the same opposition in the Middlesex Cup.

Further scores from PJ Lloyd, James Legg, Andy Sprague and Richard Yong meant Hackney eventually ran out convincing winners.

The victory leaves Hackney stationed in sixth place in the table, but with a sense of looking up rather than down ahead of this weekend’s visit of Grasshoppers to Spring Hill.

There were just three points separating the sides at the interval, and the visitors had to withstand some strong carries by the UCS forwards in a fiercely-contested first half.

After both teams had traded early penalty conversions, the dominance of Hackney’s front five eventually brought the game’s first try, as Strong opened his account following a trademark catch and drive.

Chamberlain was next to go over the whitewash with a try that was a carbon copy of the first, but Hackney’s lead was reduced before the break as another penalty was then followed by UCS full-back Rory Gibson running the full length of the pitch to score unopposed.

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Leading 17-14 at the turnaround, Hackney re-emerged determined to prevent the hosts from building up a head of steam, and they re-established a 10-point buffer through new fly-half Rich Frost, as his offload enabled Yong to slide under the posts.

UCS fought valiantly to stage a comeback, but with Ed Clark and Buzz Burrows marshalling the Hackney defence, the home side began to run out of ideas, and a misplaced pass allowed Lloyd to run free and tee up Sprague for the bonus point.

The Griffins sensed that their opponents’ resistance was fading, and duly extended their lead through Chamberlain’s second of the day, after good work by Strong and Legg.

Three further tries in an open final quarter for Hackney created a flattering scoreline, and captain Will Bowers was relieved to see his side’s losing run come emphatically to an end.

“We’re pleased to get back to what I call an 80-minute performance,” Bowers told the Gazette. “We’ve been quite good in our recent run of defeats but only for about 45 minutes, before letting things slip.

“We weren’t far off being a winning side [in defeats to Belsize Park, Wasps and Fullerians] only to lose concentration in defence, but on Saturday we were resolute.

“I’d say top three or four isn’t realistic this season, but I still think we have a good chance of winning at least three of our last five games, starting against Grasshoppers.”

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