Local rugby team play old rivals
Rugby history shows that when a team splits into two, a rivalry is created which, despite being physical encounters on the pitch, the game just wouldn't be right without it.
In 1870, The Hampstead Football Club split into two separate teams following a disagreement regarding which direction to take the club. Allegedly, following a meeting of members it was decided that as the club no longer recruited from within the Hampstead area, the club should change their name. Keen to keep the HFC monogram, the name 'Harlequin' was selected (apparently from a dictionary) and the would famous Harlequin club was formed.
When the Hampstead members NOT present at the meeting heard of the name change, they decided to split from the renamed club and form their own team. Keeping the Hampstead colours (yellow and black hoops), they selected a more obvious name; Wasps FC.
History also records that these two newly formed teams would go on to be two of the biggest brands in club rugby. In 2013, this situation was repeated when some SODAM players decided to set up a club more local to home and Hanwell RFC were formed.
This league game was the first encounter between the original and the new club and was to be one of contrasting styles, with SODAM choosing to build their team with a dynamic and powerful game plan at the heart of their tactics.
Hanwell, on the other hand, aimed to ride out the expected SODAM storm and then counter attack using their pace and precision.
The game began with Hanwell kicking off and as expected SODAM attacked with ferocity. Their tight five were a formidable unit and were significantly bigger than their Hanwell counterparts. However, Hanwell rose to the challenge by defending well and using the breakdown to their advantage, by successfully committing fewer numbers to the rucks but managing to turn over SODAM on numerous occasions.
As planned, Hanwell rode the SODAM onslaught and started to use their pacey and agile backs to create space in the SODAM defence.
The set piece was an even contest with SODAM, the bigger pack, having a slight upper hand at scrum time, but with Hanwell's very own 'Phoenix', Lebby Anafu, soaring in the lineout to not only win their own throws, but also stealing lots of the opposition ball as well.
The opening score came from a sweeping Hanwell move in which the point of attack was often switched from left to right. Eventually though, SODAM turned over and kicked clear.
Hanwell fullback, Kevin Falvey caught the ball and ran back with gusto, unleashing a Garryowen which caused mayhem in the SODAM line and bounced back into his grateful hands for an easy run in under the posts. The extras were duly added by the reliable boot of winger Jack Ryan.
The wait for the next score wasn't long, with Paul Doherty (standing in for David Lowney at fly half), dancing through the opposition with such fast feet that he literally left his own right boot behind! At the optimum moment, Paul nudged the ball into the SODAM 22 and chased on to collect his kick and to pop a pass to Myles Cavendish to score. Once again Jack Ryan stepped up to collect the extras.
Soon, SODAM managed to get their power game going, inspired by the guest appearance of Andy Meharry, star of the Sky Sports series, "School of Hard Knocks 2013" (Andy is brother of SODAM captain Johnie) and a number immense mauls brought them into the home team's 22. Hanwell, brought them to a halt illegally and SODAM kicked for touch, obviously wanting to capitalise on their mauling game.
Even though Hanwell expected the drive to come from the lineout, they had little answer to this potent weapon and SODAM rumbled over to close the gap with an unconverted try. At the break the score remained 14-5 to the home team.
The second half began in a similar way to the first, with SODAM trying to force their way back into the game with a series of pick and go moves that were eventually forced out into touch.
Quick thinking by hooker John Bodman resulted in a quick lineout to scrumhalf Alex Todman who fed the ball wide through the backs for winger Oliver Short to run in try number three in the corner.
Hanwell pushed for a fourth try with centre pairing Kenny Hassan and Kirk Saunders crossing the gainline every time they received the ball. Kenny broke through beating 2 or 3 men before offloading in the tackle to send Hanwell over in the corner again. However, the try was disallowed as Kenny had received a knee to the head, which SODAM spotted and sportingly stopped to assist. The referee was quick to attend to the injury and restarted the game with a scrum to the home team.
Eventually, the fourth try came when scrum half Alex Todman ran through a tiring SODAM team before being tackled just yards from the try line. Managing to pop a pass off the ground to Kevin Falvey, the fullback ran in his second try of the game. Final score was 31-5 to the home team.
After the game, both teams decamped to The Plough where the beer flowed and a good evening was had by all.
8th October 2013