Hackney skipper targets promotion after six straight wins

Hackney’s new captain PJ Lloyd has praised his squad for their “flawless” start to the season as the Spring Hill-based club set their sights on promotion after six straight victories.

Hackney have won half of their fixtures by more than 30 points without conceding any at the other end, and they have picked up a bonus point in all but one of their matches – Saturday’s narrow 19-18 triumph away at Hitchin.

It leaves the Griffins with 29 points from a possible 30 in London Division Three North West. And, although that only leaves them in third place behind Hemel Hempstead and Stevenage Town in a highly competitive promotion fight, Lloyd – who replaced Will Bowers as skipper at the start of the campaign – believes his side are ready for a top-two finish and a step up.

“We’ve been flawless so far,” he told the Gazette. “It’s been six games, six wins – with a bonus point in the first five – and a few games where we’ve kept the opposition’s score to zero. It’s been excellent.

“It’s usually a three-horse race. We’ve been at the back of that race in the last couple of seasons, so hopefully this time we can change our fortunes.

“We play both Hemel Hempstead and Stevenage in about a month’s time, and that will give us a real indication of whether or not this is our year.

‘There’s a real sense that we can go one better than we have done in recent seasons – we’ve been a bit smarter in how we play.

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“It’s more or less the same bunch of lads as last year but we’ve been really disciplined when out of possession and we’re more organised this time around.

“The spine of the team has matured. Those who make up the core components are in their late 20s. There have been a couple of young lads who have come up from our Under-18 team, which you need because every week there’ll be some lads missing. I’m pleased with the depth we have to our squad – it’ll make a big difference.”

Lloyd, who is originally from Limerick but moved to Victoria Park in 2013, is enjoying his new responsibility as captain, but he is also keen to ensure that he is doing his job as a player.

“This is my third season with the club and as captain now you find your reach with it,” said the Irishman. “It’s nice to have a little more of an influence on the team, bringing fresh ideas, and overall it’s a good experience.

“It’s a challenge keeping everyone happy but they’re a good bunch of lads.

“There are a lot of leaders in the team who take over the role themselves, and as a winger my main job is to score tries.

“I get gifted a lot from my team-mates, it’s often a case of being in the right place at the right time. If you’re on the wing and not scoring tries, there’s something wrong with you.”

The Griffins host fourth-placed Datchworth this weekend and, since their opponents having only lost one game themselves, it is set to be Hackney’s toughest test to date.