Hackney through to Middlesex Vase final after Hendon win
Griffins to meet Kilburn in April 28 showdown
Hackney booked their place in the final of the Middlesex Vase thanks to a hard-fought away win at Hendon on Saturday afternoon.
The Griffins travelled to north-west London light on first-team backs, causing coach Ben Scanlan all sorts of selection problems and resulting in flanker Lawrence Mills stepping up to kicking duty.
Inspired by a fiery rhetoric from stand-in captain Ollie Hart, Hackney started the stronger of the two sides, as their dominant pack gained good field position through a driving maul.
The home side eventually buckled under the pressure and conceded a penalty inside their own 22.
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Mills stepped up for the chance to convert the penalty, but his first effort sailed wildly wide of the uprights.
The Griffins’ pressure did not let up though, and they were soon ahead courtesy of Glen Prouse’s hard work.
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Hendon were being driven backwards from a scrum on their own five-metre line, and as the home side’s scrum-half attempted a box-kick, flanker Prouse pounced to charge down the kick.
The loose ball was then gathered by Ben Chamberlain to score, with Mills successfully adding the conversion for a 7-0 lead at the break.
Hendon started strongly in the second period, adding a penalty after ill-discipline from Hackney, followed by a pushover try, taking the lead at 10-7 for the first time in the game.
Going behind seemed to wake the Griffins up, with their forwards punching holes in the home side’s defence, with Hackney No 8 Uzo particularly effective.
Hendon were then penalised for side entrance and Mills slotted the subsequent kick to tie the scores level with eight minutes remaining.
The heavens opened and both sides struggled to adapt to the conditions, before Hendon added another penalty for a 13-10 lead.
The Griffins responded almost immediately, as good work from the centres found Chamberlain, who beat one defender before offloading to wing Jack Agboola.
The wing then flicked on the afterburners to outpace several defenders and retake the lead for Hackney at 15-13.
The visitors then made sure of their place in the Vase final as the impressive Chamberlain collected the ball before putting James Rowbottom into space to finish in the corner.
Mills missed the conversion attempt, but it didn’t matter, as Hackney recorded the 20-13 victory.
The Griffins now face Kilburn in the Vase final on Saturday, April 28.