“Evergreens save the best til last”
A perfect outcome to a perfect evening, at what can now legitimately called Fortress Vallis last Friday, was preceded by an intense build up by both sides as they prepared for this season’s Middlesex Merit Table league play-off final. Both sides had had convincing semi-final victories coming into the game, with H & F dispatching a strong Fullerians side at Allianz Park notching 60 points in the process after our own win against Wasps.
H&F started the stronger of the two teams, camping themselves into the bottom left hand corner of the Evergreens half courtesy of some strong attacking play and a moderate right to left wind. However, the Vets soaked up the pressure with solid defence, helped by loose tongues from H&F that led to a number of penalties. The final one was converted by Gunny for the first points of the evening in minute 12. Nine minutes later the ever youthful number 9 Graham whipped past Terry down the blindside to collect his own chip and score in the corner for an unconverted try; 8-0. Gunny then kept the score board ticking over with another penalty to punish the missed one by H&F after 30 minutes but the first half pressure really came to bear just before the whistle. A Whitney break was followed by three clinical recycles of the ball with fourth phase wide ball allowing Jacko to score in the left hand corner. A final pre-halftime penalty meant that the Evergreens took a commanding 21-0 lead into the break.
The beginning of the second half was the opposite of the first with H&F putting in a massive defensive effort but breaking away from a penalty kicked to the left corner to score a try. The impeccable Gunny then slotted another penalty followed by a well worked forwards try that effectively put the game to bed. Nevertheless Hammers never gave up and were rewarded with a try in the corner after a quick penalty tap and go. Beck got his name on the score sheet as usual, but this time with a well struck final Evergreens penalty from approximately 40m out.
There is no doubt this H&F team were a well drilled and talented team but the Evergreens never let them get into the free flowing, high points scoring groove they have been used to this season. Massive defence was matched by expansive, intelligent attack undertaken by a talented group of players who have gelled under skipper Jake, drawn into a winning set-up by Tel & Jacko who have built on the legacy of BOF. All have flourished after taking the leap back into league rugby advised by Ricky and Clarkey. Tour next week lads, but stay interested and come back refreshed for a title defence in September.