British Airways fly high and beat Hanwell RFC
It has been an eventful second season for Hanwell RFC. The club has been on a successful run of 9 games without loss (including six successive victories) and were due to take on London Welsh Occies on Saturday 22nd November in the league.
Unfortunately, Welsh were unable to field a team as many of their squad had travelled to Cardiff for the Wales international.
As a result, Hanwell were awarded a 25-0 'walkover' victory. A win that means the club are now joint top of Middlesex Merit 6 with the next league game two weeks away against fellow league leaders Old Hamptonians.
Following the withdrawal of London Welsh Occies, a hastily put together friendly with British Airways RFC - who were also without a fixture following Staines forfeiting their game, was pencilled in.
This game was always going to be a test of how far Hanwell have come since their formation last year, with BA currently sitting 2nd in Merit 3 (3 divisions above Hanwell).
Indeed, it was the home side who began the game strongly, bringing a physical approach to the game. Hanwell were camped in their own half for a long period, struggling to get out of their half but whilst defending well.
The rain began to lash down, making the game very much a forwards battle - although it was a quality kick from the BA flyhalf, deep into the visitors 22, which brought about the first score.
Hanwell had the edge in the lineouts and won the ball on the 5 metre line, however the wet conditions made handling difficult and a mix up in the centres resulted in a very easy try for the home side. 7-0 to BA.
Hanwell, as has become their way, were dragged into life following that score and began to put some forward phases together to make headway into the BA half.
Good play from a short lineout got the visitors into the home side's half and when the ball was fed wide, centre Kenny Hassan broke through and headed into the corner.
Just before grounding the ball, a BA player managed to make a tackle that the referee adjudged to be high and a penalty try was awarded to level the scores.
Hanwell have been used to dominating the set piece recently, however BA's forward pack were a class act and pushed Hanwell backwards at each scrum.
It was from a scrum that the home side set up their second try, although unconverted this gave them a 12-7 lead.
However Hanwell were not done and almost immediately hit back with a brilliant try from leading try scorer Paul Doherty. With the conversion scored, Hanwell went into half time leading 14-12.
The second half mirrored the first in terms of how the game was played. Hanwell dominating the lineouts and BA's pack outclassing in the scrums. The play in the loose was fairly equal, with both sides making breaks and defending well.
However, it was the home team's big pack that made the next breakthrough. With a couple of scrums on the visitor's 5 metre line survived, it was inevitable that BA would work a way to cross the try line.
Having taken a 19-14 lead, Hanwell were forced to go to uncontested scrums - with both the Loosehead and Hooker suffering injuries. With no substitutes available, both played on.
During the final 6 minutes, it was Hanwell who were camped in the home side's 22. A lineout, taken by captain Steve Nolan was mauled over the BA line, but was adjudged to have been held up. With time running out, the scrum was taken and in loose play a penalty awarded to Hanwell, who put the ball in the corner.
With the lineout the last play of the game, it was now or never for Hanwell to claim the scalp of yet another higher league side.
The lineout was once again good and a maul was formed ready for the drive. Unfortunately, the referee spotted an offence and blew for a penalty to the home side who put the ball dead to claim victory.
The game was by far the Hanwell's toughest of the season and it is credit to all the players to come within touching distance of the win. However, despite the close score, BA were good value and played the game fairly and physically.
Final score; British Airways RFC 19 - Hanwell RFC 14.
25th November 2014