St Albans’ valiant effort gives league leaders Hackney plenty to think about

St Albans pushed London North West Three league leaders Hackney all the way on Saturday. Picture: KE

St Albans pushed London North West Three league leaders Hackney all the way on Saturday. Picture: KEVIN LINES - Credit: Archant

Runaway London North West Three league leaders Hackney were given a huge fright by St Albans before winning 26-3 at their Spring Hill home.

Saints enjoyed plenty of ball and spent a lot of time in Hackney’s territory but were just unable to prevent the east London side from recording a 14th straight victory this season.

Hackney’s defence was severely tested over the 80 minutes, as was St Albans. But in the end the hosts’ slick attack, married with some good fortune, saw them prevail.

Hackney came out all guns blazing and used the driving wind and rain to force St Albans on the defensive from the kick-off.

However, St Albans wall of tacklers held firm with prop Mike Bennet and captain Brent Lemiere making several thunderous hits.

Pressure did tell in the end and following a series of thrusting mauls Hackney dotted over the line and kicked the conversion for an early 7-0 lead.

The next 25 minutes though belonged to the Boggymead rugby club, camping on the opposition’s 22m line and pressuring through both forwards and backs.

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It is a credit to Hackney’s defence that the visitors only had a Nick Woolley penalty to show for the exhausting hard work.

Right on half-time, the visitors were awarded a penalty in their own half. A speculative cross-field kick caught a gust of wind which wrong-footed the Saints line. Hackney won the subsequent kick and chase to touch down for their second try.

That score deflated St Albans and two quick tries in the second half gave Hackney a solid advantage.

Their wise game management after that attempted to force their visitors to play deep in their own half.

But the blue and gold outfit had other ideas. They re-grouped and, through their loose forwards and midfield, they kept their composure, fighting back in to the heart of the East Londoner’s half.

They managed to get on or near the line on multiple occasions but were held up each time. And with that time run out on their valiant effort.