Hardwick holds nerve as Hackney beat Kilburn

Herts/Middlesex II

Kilburn 5 Hackney 6

A disappointing performance from Hackney following the Christmas break was rescued in the 84th minute by James Hardwick’s nerves of steel which enabled him to knock over a 20-yard penalty.

The first half was characterised by basic mistakes as rustiness took its toll as Hackney did the basics well but failed to find the clinical pass despite dominating territory.

A missed penalty from each side looked to be the only action of note in the first period before a quick tap penalty on the 5m line caught Hackney napping meant Kilburn grabbed the advantage on the scoreboard in the 39th minute.

Just after half time Hackney burst into life. Will Bowers provided some great support running, and Andy Pilkington made an excellent 20 yard break.

A penalty was knocked over by Hardwick following repeated infringements by Kilburn, although it should have been accompanied by a yellow card which was threatened by the referee, but never dished out.

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Twice Hackney turned down kicks at the post in the Kilburn 22, and both times were left to rue their decision making as Hardwick and Walsh knocked on gilt edged opportunities with the line beckoning.

With a line-out just outside the Hackney 22, and time practically up, Kilburn knew all they needed to do was hold onto the ball and get it out.

A throw to the first man meant Hackney couldn’t contest, but somehow the ball was turned over and the great escape was a possibility. Over the next four minutes every Hackney player showed brilliant decision making, great discipline and composure that had been missing previously.

Despite suffering severe cramp, Alex O’Hara took the ball into contact some six times, and always broke the line which gave the attack a focal point to march 60 yards. Eventually Kilburn were being stretched and their captain lay on the wrong side to slow the ball, and to add to the pain of the shoeing inflicted by Jon Williams the referee gave Hardwick the chance to win the match.

Having knocked on over the try line 10 minutes earlier, Hardwick went from zero to hero as he slotted the penalty straight as a die and it never looked like missing. Great credit to Kilburn who over the course of the two matches this year have only been two points worse off than Hackney, but the winning habit is ingrained in Hackney and it showed.

Hackney: Beno, C.Davis (c), Pilkington, Hart, Crockett, Bowers, Walsh, Chamberlain, Cunningham, O’Hara, J.Davis, Aylward, Rowbottom, Hobday, Hardwick.

Stanford 10 Hackney 56

Hackney Gladies continued where they left off against Millwall; playing expansive, quick rugby that their opponents couldn’t match

Debutant Katie Middleton marked her first ever game of rugby with a try.

Anita Oliver, Felicity Auer (2) and Genevieve Barr (2), all went over in only their second games for the club as the Hackney Gladies ran riot, putting in a tremendous showing.

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