An autumnal weekend afternoon battle beckoned for the Pinner 1st XV as they journeyed towards the heaths of Hampstead. If the band of brothers were to grab a victory, the team knew that mistakes needed to be at a minimal, whilst aggression and pain endurance maintained high levels. This was aptly encapsulated by Aaron Nicholas who threw himself into the first tackle from KO, resulting in an injury that he carried throughout the game.
Pinner dominated the first 10 mins, keeping possession within their half and gaining yards slowly but surely. Strong carries from the back row ensured we kept going and stayed on the front foot, but the Hampstead defence remained resilient throughout. 15 mins in and a quick turnover awoke the Hampstead back line who passed it down and offloaded nicely to bring it back into our 22. A ferocious tackle from full back Tom Morahan slowed down the impending attack but Pinners defence was too slow to react, and a resulting 2 on 1 meant their winger scored the first try of the game.
Injuries persisted with Ken and Aaron 2 walking off the field after strong carries but awkward falls. Again, possession was dominated within the home side’s half. However, a pinpoint kick from the Hampstead 10 from a penalty brought us back to the Pinner 22. The Hampstead line out was thrown to the back and their number 8 managed to weave behind the maul into space for a second try.
Albeit Pinner was on the back foot, a stern team talk had the tails wagging again as Pinner roared on. Multiple rumbles and crash balls from the front row/second row pulled us back into their 22. However, the Great Wall of Hampstead proved defiant as Pinner strived to reach the try line. Mistakes and knock ons resulted in numerous turnovers, but the Pinner scrum continued to dominate and help claw back possession. One final push from a scrum saw Andrew Alexander guide the ball over the try line to bring us back to 12-7.
The strong carrying continued throughout the half, with Dan Muckley and our overseas Turkish international John Petrella making good yardage. The half backs of Ben Solomon and Niall Curran continued to pull the strings and dictate play beautifully. A nice move across the backs freed Tim O Connor to feed through a long pass to Rohan Desai, who ran a good 20 metres but to only get tap tackled on the try line and dropping the ball like a muppet. Another strong effort 5 minutes later from a maul lead Andrew once again to the try line only for the try to be disallowed on the basis of knock-on/double movement.
Hampstead capitalised on the mistake as they kicked deep into our half and finishing off a move on the wing after a couple of phases to extend the lead to 19-7. A late solo effort from Ben Solomon, whizzing past their defence down the blind side, brought the score back to 19-12. However, it was too late for the brave Pinner lads as Hampstead hung on to the win.
The army marches on to next Saturday. Bodies bruised and battered but pride still intact. Man of the match went jointly to Ben Solomon for his game awareness and control of the play, and to the entire back row for the aggression and workload in the breakdowns.