Uzo the hat-trick hero as Hackney move up to second
Hackney 48 Verulamians 0
Hackney continued their impressive new year form with another high-scoring victory, this time at home to Verulamians.
The visitors arrived at Spring Hill and after winning the toss decided to play into the low winter’s sun.
The game started off at a high tempo, with huge tackles flying in from both sides and the Verulamians fly-half showing a strong boot with the ball.
However, the initial stalemate was soon broken by the Griffins’ in-form number eight Uzo Uyanwune.
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Some great interplay from Hackney saw Uyanwune break the line and with just the full-back left to beat, the number eight made the 15m dash to the tryline look easy.
The Griffins collected the restart well and moved up the pitch, only to be punished by the giant boot of the Verulamians’ fly-half, who punished the home side with long kicks to gain territory for the visitors.
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However, Hackney defended well and managed to win a turnover in the middle of the pitch.
The ball was worked out to captain Alex O’Hara, who spotted Uyanwune lurking out wide.
The fly-half then spun a miss pass out to Uyanwune and from 50m out, the number eight managed to beat three defenders, before cantering home for his second try of the afternoon.
With the Griffins two tries to the good, that was how the score remained at the break, with both sides knowing that the game was up for grabs.
The second half got underway with the Griffins under strict instructions from director of rugby Ben Scanlan to control the game and the home side duly responded.
Cormac Fanning marshalled his pack well at scrum-half, and was providing quick ball for the Hackney backs to use, retaining possession.
With very little space to work in, Newton Mills then powered his way through the Verulamians’ fringe and tore off down field.
The flanker was well supported by wing Charlie Williams, who collected Mills’ offload before taking the ball the distance to add to his impressive tally for the season, for the Griffins’ third score of the match.
Hackney then stretched their lead further with three forwards’ tries from each department.
The first score came from clean, crisp rucking, which resulted in a John Tully pick and go from two yards out.
Moments later and the Griffins has scored a second forwards try, this time from a scrum against the head, which saw Uyanwune pick up at the base and carry the ball along with three defenders over the line to complete his hat-trick.
The third forwards try, Hackney’s sixth of the afternoon, came from a great move at the lineout, which resulted in hooker Charles Bailey crashing through his opposite number to extend the Griffins’ lead even further.
Not to be outdone, Hackney’s backs then got in on the action when Jack Silverthorn ran half the length of the pitch to score his side’s seventh before Verulamians mounted one last charge.
However, Hackney remained strong and refused to let the visitors score, before adding a final try of their own through Williams.
The victory moves Hackney up to second place in the Herts/Middlesex One table, just two points behind leaders Wasps and three points clear of third-placed Old Priorians.
Hackney: Rowbottom, Wing, Agboola, Dutting, Williams, O’Hara (c), Fanning; Pilkington, Bailey, Bobin, Tully, Hart, Mills, Chamberlain, Uyanwune. Subs: Bowers, Parker, Cox.