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.
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.