HRFC victory over London Welsh Occies
Almost two years to the day since the first discussions regarding the setting up of a rugby club in Hanwell, the squad had a make or break game at Boston Manor to decide whether or not the club would progress through to the end of season Play Offs.
Hanwell came into the game in 3rd place in the league, whilst London Welsh Occies were unexpectedly bottom in the league.
Despite their lowly league position, Welsh are a much stronger team than the side that began the season - their last two games included a convincing win against the Civil Service and restricting run away league leaders Old Hamptonians to just an 11 point defeat.
As expected, Welsh started as fierce as dragons. From an early scrum, they set their stall out as a powerful pack of forwards, immediately putting the hosts on the back foot.
Hanwell defended staunchly to keep the visitors at bay, managing to turn the ball over within their own 22 on more than one occasion.
However under such pressure, all the home side's half backs could do was kick clear to relieve some of the territorial advantage Welsh had made.
Eventually though, the visitors put together some good phases to put their winger over the line in the corner to take the lead. A difficult conversion sailed inches wide to leave the scores at Hanwell 0 - Occies 5.
Hanwell's flyhalf David Simpson's restart was a thing of beauty - gaining height and coming back down bang on the 10 metre line. Unfortunately no Hanwell player managed to get a hand on the ball and once again Welsh put the hosts under more pressure.
It didn't take long for Hanwell to concede yet another try. Once again the visitor's pack putting good pressure on at the rucks and quick ball enabled them to cross the line again.
With a second conversion missed, Hanwell restarted the game trailing 0-10.
With the game in balance and a win needed to make the play off semi final, Hanwell finally began to play smarter rugby. With the strength of the Welsh team coming from their pack, hooker Craig Carroll threw a beautiful pass out wide to Steve Nolan on the crash ball. Quick ball from scrum half Kevin Falvey got winger Kenny Hassan onto the ball, who ran through three attempted tackles to score under the posts right on the stroke of half time.
With the conversion successful, Hanwell went into the break just 7-10 behind.
The second half began with the hosts making a few positional and personnel changes. Amongst the changes included the introduction of Paul Doherty at scrum half, allowing Kevin Falvey to revert to his traditional place at full back.
Neal Fetterman came in at hooker and Mitchel Thorpe came onto the wing.
The change in playing style, had an immediate effect with Hanwell upping the tempo of the game from the restart. Where the calmness of secure defending and kicking from the half backs in the first half had sapped the visitors energy, the injection of pace at half time began to open up holes in their defensive line.
A fantastic move by the host's back line put centre Matt Pickersgill clear. With a bit of magic from his dancing feet, the centre crossed to score early on to give Hanwell the lead for the first time in the game.
With the pace of the game raised, Welsh struggled to keep Hanwell at bay and soon afterwards, Pickersgill's centre partner David Lowney cut through three Welsh players, and neatly chipped the ball beyond the full back for Kenny Hassan to collect and cross the line to score his second try of the game.
Hassan wasn't finished yet. Another classy backs move opened a hole in the Welsh defence for the winger to run though to complete his hatrick and the win for Hanwell.
The bonus point win was enough to guarantee Hanwell a place in the play offs against Twickenham - who finished the season with the same record as Hanwell (played 14, won 9, lost 4, drawn 1). The play off semi finals will be contested on 28th March with the final two weeks later.
Merit Table 6 Play Off Semi Finals;
Old Hamptonians (1st) vs Whitton Lions (4th)
Twickenham (2nd) vs Hanwell RFC (3rd).
10th March 2015