Braintree’s fate is almost sealed
London 1 North - Braintree 18 Hammersmith and Fulham 46
BRAINTREE’s miserable season in London 1 North continued on Saturday as a Jekyll and Hyde style performance saw them throw away a promising lead.
In the first half, the black and ambers played some of their best rugby of the season.
But after having two players sin-binned within the space of two minutes, early in the second half, they went to pieces.
The defeat, against a side who are almost certain to be relegated alongside them leaves Braintree anchored to the bottom of London One North.
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It had all looked so promising early in the first half when the home side shrugged off the setback of an early Hammersmith try to play some effervescent rugby.
Full-back Neil Richardson’s third minute try was converted by fly-half Jack Sergeant to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
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But Braintree hit back with an unconverted try of their own from outside centre Joss Adams.
The same player potted a 20th minute penalty to edge his side 8-7 in front before outstripping the visitors’ defence to score his second try of the game two minutes later.
Converting his own score to put ‘Tree 15-7 ahead he then added another penalty on 25 minutes to stretch their lead to 18-7.
Adams’ man-of-the-match performance, along with a solid display at number eight by Wes Apps, was one of the few shining moments from an otherwise miserable afternoon.
The visitors rallied just before half-time when Richardson was adjudged to have beaten winger George Crane to touch down a kick through on 35 minutes to make it 18-12.
Braintree went into self-destruct mode within minutes of the re-start.
Second row Neil Fitzearle was yellow carded on 43 minutes for not rolling away and fellow forward Andy Robertson followed him to the bin for the same offence a minute later.
Fly-half Sergeant kicked the penalty awarded against Braintree for the second offence to further reduce the arrears to 18-15.
The hosts then seemed to run out of steam completely, with their opponents taking full advantage as the floodgates opened.
Richardson went over to complete a hat-trick of tries on 63 minutes, Sergeant converting to edge the visitors 22-18 ahead.
And when Johnno Robertson crossed the line on 65 minutes, Sergeant again converting, Hammersmith were 29-18 in front and cruising.
Braintree rang the changes by introducing replacements from the bench but to no avail, Sergeant adding a fifth try for the visitors and converting the score to make it 36-18.
Further unconverted tries from James Boysons on 75 minutes and Alex Scarrett moments before the whistle merely rubbed salt into by now open wounds.