Harlequin Amateurs were crowned champions of MMT Division 3 on Saturday after overcoming a 12 point deficit to defeat Hanwell RFC.
With both teams agreeing to delay the kick off time by fifteen minutes to allow a few Hanwell players to arrive at the ground, Quins could be forgiven for thinking they might have the mental edge over their opponents in the early stages. This was certainly not to be the case, however, and although Quins did have to play into the sun, wind and up the hill, Hanwell began the game with an intensity that Harlequins had rarely had to deal with throughout the season. For the first twenty minutes Hanwell did not give an inch in defence and were able to capitalise on untypically soft defending to open up a 12 point lead. During this time Quins also lost charismatic, handsome and inspirational captain Sean Gorman to a knee injury. Entirely unrelated, this was the moment that Quins really turned up to the game and for the first time managed to string some phases together. With the pressure starting to mount, winger James Summersett found a burst of speed up the right flank to score in the corner. George was just wide with the conversion, and the score stayed at 12-5.
The coaches were quick to freshen things up, and “Finisher” Aaron Addis was the player to draw the scores level after a strong break in midfield saw him charge up the hill and under the posts to give George an easy conversion.
With Quins having weathered the Hanwell storm, they also had the benefit of the slope and wind in the second half and it wasn’t too long before Paul Hibbert ws putting both to good use with a delicate kick through for full back Charlie Blower to chase, collect and release Alec Smail to score. The extras were added and Harlequins found themselves in the lead for the first time in the game.
Only a few minutes later, Alec thought he had bagged his second of the afternoon after Aaron made another fine break in midfield before drawing the fullback and sending Schmail over the line, only for the referee to judge the final pass had gone forward. He didn’t have to wait too long though, and soon found himself dotting down over the whitewash after wiggling his way around three would-be defenders to score a fine individual effort. 12-26.
Just as the game appeared to be drifting away from the home team, Hanwell were able to assert some pressure on the Quins defence and scored a well worked try to bring themselves back to within a score. This was, however, to be their last score of the afternoon as Harlequins showed their superior fitness to score a further two tries. The first came when fly half Luke Povey, back on the pitch after miraculously recovering from the hamstring injury that had earlier forced him out of the game, used every ounce of power left in his weary legs to step inside his defender and dart over the try line. And Quins’ 6th try of the afternoon came when Simon Hubbard bobbed, ducked and weaved his way over from 10 meters out after a stolen lineout in the Hanwell “22”. With this being the last play of the game, all that was left to do was to celebrate winning the league!
The TES sponsored Man of the Match award this week went to Paul Hibbert who steadied the ship from 13, 12, fly half or wherever else he was asked to play!
DoD went to Dave Love who both generously, and foolishly, substituted himself off as the ref blew the final whistle.
Celebrations continued long in to the night, and into Sunday morning for some. Eighteen wins from eighteen games is an incredible achievement. Along the way we have overcome some very strong opposition in the process, and we look forward to doing it all again next season!