Hampstead hold on for third win on the bounce

Thursday, 3rd February — By Steve Barnett

Hampstead Ladies RFC Two

Hampstead on the way to a 17-10 victory against Hackney. Photo: Sharnie Pokai

A SWATHE of supporters watched on nervously as Hampstead Ladies RFC recorded “a redemptive victory” over local rivals Hackney on Saturday to continue their 2022 winning streak.

An incredibly physical match in the Women’s Championship South East 2 ended with Hampstead grinding out a 17-10 win at Hackney Marshes – helping banish any demons from October’s clash between the two teams when Hackney secured a last-gasp 22-20 victory.

After watching Hampstead make it three wins out of three so far this year, head coach Sam Stabler said: “I am very proud of the team for defending their line for the last 20 minutes.

“It was great to win three on the spin in what was undoubtedly our grittiest win of the year.”

High winds at Hackney Marshes meant neither team could rely on the lineout to gain any advantage and the teams were evenly matched in the scrum – Hampstead unusually not able to drive the opposition back with their typical dominance.

The forwards kept the ball secure early on in some tense phase play, creeping up the field to gain territory before shipping it quickly out to the backs.

It was an approach that gave centre Beth Sims the chance to dot down in the corner to give the visitors the lead.

Hackney quickly responded to make the score 5-5. But a dramatic, and rare, break from fly-half Faye Hamp restored Hampstead’s lead. Full-back Emma McBride scored the conversion for an additional two points to give Hampstead a 12-5 advantage at half-time.

Hampstead refused to take their foot off the pedal in the second half and, after maintaining pressure in the scrum, the ball eventually found its way to centre Helen Atkinson, who beat several defenders in an exceptional carry towards the try line to score.

As the final quarter came around, Hackney proved they were still in the fight by dotting down another try, taking the score to 17-10.

Hampstead had to double down on their defensive play, and with winger Violette Desarmeaux making several try-saving tackles, the away side managed to hold out for the points.

Reflecting on “a brilliant win”, Hampstead captain Hamp said: “That was easily one of our hardest fought games and we really dug in towards the end.”

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