Hackney reach Junior Vase third round

Hackney 32 Old Cranleighans 12

In-form Hackney reached the London & SE Junior Vase third round with a five-star performance on Saturday against their high-flying Surrey League opponents.

After a difficult week, in which Gareth Hatherly-Hurford replaced Ben Scanlan as head coach, the Griffins started brightly.

On 15 minutes the OCs scrum-half conceded a penalty under intense pressure from Sam Wilkinson and Sam Willoughby, which Alex O’Hara duly converted.

But the visitors soon enjoyed their best period of the game where flowing moves and prolonged pressure was rewarded with two tries to move 12-3 up on 25 minutes.

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But five minutes later Hackney were back in the game. A series of excellent kicks from O’Hara and Guy Watmore gave the Griffins a line-out on the opposition five-yard line.

Ben Jones, who hit 100 per cent of his line-outs, duly delivered to the tail and Mills rolled the maul right and drove over to score in the corner – reducing the half-time deficit to 12-8.

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After some defensive reorganisation at the interval, Hackney flew out of the traps in the second half and moved in front, courtesy of two tries from man of the match Chad Burke.

On 50 minutes Burke collected the ball from a five-yard line-out and stretched an arm over the line to touch down.

Then, the big second row ghosted through the OC’s guard for his second score moments later.

The visitors’ heads had dropped and Griffins granted themselves breathing space with a fourth try, after a brief stalemate between the teams.

Ben Chamberlain took advantage of a handling error by the OC’s full-back and fed prop Glenn Prowse, who embarked on an astonishing 40-yard run before touching down.

The fifth and final try for Hackney was scored, inevitably, by Ben Weller, who exploited a gap in defence to touch down for his seventh score of the season.

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