With 2 wins from 4 in the opening games of the season, Old Haberdashers were determined to start October with a win. None of the current playing squad had ever beaten Chingford, who had spent last season up in London SE Premier.
The atmosphere in the warm up was focused, but the players knew it didn’t have the same intensity as previous weeks. In the opening 10 minutes it was all Chingford. They came out the blocks firing with their big ball carriers taking advantage of a slow start from the Habs. Unlike in the opening games where the penalty count had been low, discipline cost Habs to the tune of 6 points in the early parts of the game.
Habs dominant front five eventually relived the pressure as they have done so many times already this season. A big scrum penalty was won in the Habs 22 and trusty Ian McGhee found touch. For the first time in the game, Habs managed to build some possession in the middle of the park. A sudden turnover and the Chingford no.8 broke a couple of tackles and lumbered in for the first try of the game. This was perhaps the wakeup needed for the men in magenta. Conversion missed, 11-0.
15 minutes into the game and Habs had all of a sudden found their rhythm. Clinical set piece and hard running saw Habs build phases and work their way into the Chingford 22m. A scything break from McGhee cut through the Chingford defence. With the back 3 closing in, Seabrook was found in support and cantered under the posts. Conversion successful. 11-7 and Habs were well back into the game.
From the kick off Habs again built pressure in midfield. Good running from the backs took Habs into the Chingford 22m. Chingford again turned the ball over. The backs did well to ship the ball wide and break around the outside. Their winger runs it in, kick is good. 18-7.
The momentum swung after the opening 20 minutes with Habs having the majority of territory and possession in the second quarter. Relentless pressure on the Chingford try line led to an attempted clearance kick from the 10. The galloping stallion had other ideas and charged it down. The ball bounced into the air and was regathered by Briff who touched it down. 18-12.
Chingford won a penalty from the kick off. Their 10 stepped up again and nudged it over to extend their lead to 21-12. Habs won a lineout on the Chingford 22m in the closing minutes of the half. The backs spun it wide to Adam Dye who powered over in the corner, not for the first time this season. Ian 'The Length' McGhee was successful with the touchline conversion. 21-19 at HT.
Habs started the second half much stronger than the first, continuing the momentum they had built. Briff sliced through the Chingford line and it looked as though he was in. A great tap tackle from the full back tripped him but he got the offload away. The ball was juggled and eventually gathered by Seabrook who went in for his second of the day. Habs were ahead for the first time of the day. 21-26.
Chingford soon hit back with a successful penalty kick to close the gap, 24-26. After some phases in midfield, a high ball bounced clumsily off the forehead of Seabrook and was gathered by the Chingford 10 who ran it in to put them back in front. No extras, 29-26.
Tommy Gunn made a real impact off the bench, looking worryingly comfortable in wide channels and often making good yards. Chingford were attacking the Habs line and were looking dangerous. Surman gathered a Chingford chip and went on the counter. He was brought down in midfield but managed to get the ball away to Paddy who ran in to put Habs back into the lead. 29-31.
The game heated up with a number of questionable hits going in and tempers flaring up. The OH Leader took an elbow to the temple which was met with loud cries of protest from the Haberdashers Faithful. Both teams piled in and the referee was in danger of losing control. His hand remained in his pocket much to the surprise of all players.
The final encounters couldn’t have been any tenser. Habs won a penalty and again ‘The Length’ stepped up to widen Habs lead, 29-34. In the closing minutes Habs had a number of chances to relieve pressure but Chingford kept hammering the defensive line. Chingford shipped the ball wide and almost beat the Habs defence. They thought they had scored but the touch judge raises his flag to indicate a boot in touch. Mike won the crucial lineout under pressure and the ball was cleared to touch. The final whistle sounded to mark a huge victory for Habs away from home.