Too little, too late as Hackney crash out of Junior Vase

Hackney 13 London Exiles 20

Hackney crashed out of the London and South East Junior Vase after tasting defeat at the hands of London Exiles in their second-round tie.

With Exiles currently lying third in Surrey One, the same position that the Griffins lie in their league, Hackney knew this would be an even game.

However, from the off Hackney were put straight on the back foot, as Exiles played a tactical kicking game to pin the Griffins back in their own 22.

With the pressure pilling on, the home side started to make silly mistakes with poor handling and a weak defence around the rucks allowing Exiles to make easy yards and inevitably cross the line twice in the corner within the space of 10 minutes to take the lead.

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Hackney stepped up their intensity after conceding, however the Griffins came undone again when Exiles pulled off a basic dummy, scissors, pop to fool the hosts’ defence and coolly score under the posts.

Exiles then extended their lead further with a simple penalty after Hackney were punished for their ill-discipline, to go 20-0 up with only minutes of the first half remaining.

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With the interval looming, the home side’s forwards finally took control of the ball and drove Exiles back within five metres of their line.

After a prolonged spell of intense pressure from the Hackney forwards with John Tully, Newton Mills and Glenn Prowse wearing down the visitors’ front row, Ben Chamberlain crashed over the line for Hackney’s first points of the game.

The try was converted by James Hardwick, and with points on the board, the Griffins continued to pile the pressure on Exiles.

With the pressure on the visitors, Exiles then conceded a penalty in front of their posts, which Hardwick converted as the scoreboard read 10-20 at the break.

Hackney started the second half as they had ended the first and were dominating the forward play, winning countless lineouts through Will Bowers’ throwing.

The Griffins pack were also pushing Exiles back in the scrums and 10 minutes into the half the visitors were reduced to 14 men when their prop was yellow carded for illegally dragging down a maul.

From that moment on, Exiles struggled to battle against the Hackney forwards, which provided the home side’s backline with a solid platform from which to work from.

The continued pressure from Hackney resulted in Exiles conceding a series of penalties.

However, the home side only managed to convert one of these from four attempts, leaving Hackney within one converted try of a draw at 13-20.

The home side continued to battle on but left it very much too little, too late, as the Exiles, now returned to their full complement of 15 men, kept up a solid defence which Hackney just could not breach.

The final five minutes were played exclusively in the Exiles 22, but the visitors managed to hang on for the win.

Hackney will now concentrate on their league campaign as they host Harlequin Amateurs this weekend, and the Griffins will be desperately looking for a repeat of last year’s game, which they won 60-0.

Hackney: Dawson, Davis, Hardwick, Duttine, Williams, O’Hara (c), Rowbottom; N Mills, Bowers, Pilkington, Tully, Crocket, Prowse, L Mills, Chamberlain. Subs: Bobin, Williams-Jones, Binns, Cox.

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