Having seen Hampton suffer, albeit incredibly bravely and proudly, against the physicality of New Zealand side Dilworth a few weeks ago, it did not seem unlikely that South African side Reitz would provide any less of a physical threat, after all â€“ South African sides are always almost brutally physical.
It was not to be the case though as Hampton out fought and out witted their opponents in miserable conditions to win the game 26-7, scoring four tries along the way.
The game was a scrappy old affair, and became more so as the game went on, the second half was scoreless right up until the final play of the game when Hampton crossed the whitewash for their fourth try.
Prior to that it had been a litany of scrums, however given the conditions it was hardly a surprise. A few hardy souls had braved the elements to head to Staines RFC but it really was braving them, the rain and wind were howling around, making the ball a bar of soap and changing the style of game completely from anything that has come before this season, in what had been an unusually and refreshingly dry start to the season.
Hampton adapted brilliantly though, using a variety of kicks to turn the Reitz defence, knowing that taking the high ball or sliding to recover a grubber or bouncing ball was never more than a 50-50 shot. Twice in the first half this paid off for Hampton as they pounced on the nasty results of kicks through to go sliding over, quite literally in one case, scrum half Zack Santos using the extra grease on the turf to manage to carry his momentum over the line to touch down.
For a side dominated by Afrikaaners, Reitz were surprisingly in their lack of bulk. Or more accurately, they were surprising in the lack of monstrous bulk, they were far from a small team. There were a few granite clad figures though, their openside and their inside centre looked like they had been carved from that classic Springbok mould.
It was perhaps unsurprising then that their try, which being the first of the game gave them the lead ten minutes in, was more Willie Le Roux than Ollie Le Roux in style (younger readers should Google the former Springbok prop). It was a lovely dancing effort from their fly half, a move that began in Hampton territory and was all the more impressive for the slippery conditions under foot.
Hampton bounced back fast with those two scores from kicks through, and were simply playing the conditions much better than their opponents. A third try soon followed from another kick through, and another example of playing the conditions better.
Hampton again played for territory, prodding the ball through for a Reitz lineout on their own five metre line â€“ sensible rugby. Reitz either forgetting for a moment how difficult the ball was to handle and how slippery under foot conditions were, or simply just fearful of Hampton pressure on their set piece, opted to go for the quick lineout.
Credit to their full back, who having received the ball behind his own try line did manage to evade a couple of tackles to at least move out from behind his own posts. However after being hauled down five metres or so from his line he was inevitably turned over, given that his support was still far ahead of him, allowing Hampton to go through the hands a score in the left hand corner, giving them a 21-7 half time lead.
The second half was, as mentioned earlier, a scrappy affair. Reitz to their credit came out and played a far more structured game than in the first half but as both sides grew tired, the errors crept in, and the penalty count grew.
Hampton gave the brave spectators what they wanted, a final flourish. Some nice play from the forwards created the space wide out on the right hand side for them to coast over and secure their fourth try, sealing an excellent 26-7 victory.
With yet more injured stars still to return, Hampton could begin to pick up some real momentum off the back of this as they start to get back up to full strength.
Full Time: Hampton 26-7 Reitz High School (South Africa)
A few photos of the game are available on our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby
By Angus Savage