Archers Win Season Finale As Hammond Looks To Rebuild

It had been a run-in that was looking like Craig Hammond’s Nottingham rugby cohorts might finish on a low, after all, prior to facing Caldy under the Friday Night Lights at Lady Bay, the Archers had lost four straight and the season was petering out.

However, and despite a delayed kick-off, a crowd of more than 1,400 packed into the Nottingham ground and bore witness to a stellar performance from hosts, although the visitors broke the deadlock with a penalty inside twenty minutes.

The score stayed that way until ten minutes before the interval, when the floodgates opened; the departing Ellis Mee (off to Scarlets) opened the scoring when breaking three tackles and dashing fo the line from thirty minutes.

Mee, one of several leaving Lady Bay, turned provided for the Archers’ second try of the evening, he squeezing through the hole and punching in Harry Graham for the try; two quickly became three as the Archers went in 21-3 to the good at the break, Jack Dickinson and Archie van der Flier combining and the latter offloaded for Jack Stapley to dive under the posts.

Hammond was delighted, understandably so, with the Archers’ attacking prowess in the season finale, and his charges added a fourth, and with It the bonus point, four minutes after the restart when a maul sees James Cherry collect the ball to score – Matt Arden meanwhile was successful in kicking all four conversions.

Caldy did another score just before the fiftieth minute, but the Archers claimed a huge win to close off the season, 28-8, and the Nottingham boss had the following to say.

“Friday night was a great win and a great win to finish the season off, but its certainly been a frustrating one, but that’s the way rugby goes.

“We had a full Lady Bay though (against Caldy), we got the bonus point, and scored class tries which was awesome, so I’m proud of the lads; we also had some great defensive sets which limited them, and, set-piece wise, lineouts, they functioned really well which gave us a good platform.

“(Ellis) Mee, he was unbelievable, and certainly man-of-the-match for sure, but it’s been a long season, a long eleven months.”

Along with Mee, a number of players are leaving Lady Bay for pastures now, several of whom have been offered full-time contracts, something which isn’t offered at Nottingham. Also departing the club is Jake Bridges, Iosefa Maloney-Fiaola (returning to New Zealand), Richard Clift 9returning to Australia), Morgan Bunting, Dafydd-Rhys Tiueti, and Jordan Olowofela.

It means that, for Hammond and his coaching staff at Lady Bay, in order tp build on the season just finished, they’ve a strong rebuild ahead, the Nottingham boss adding.

“Yes, it’s frustrating and the biggest thing we’ve had has been an electric backline this year, and scored some really great tries off of it, so all of your full-time clubs have come knocking for those boys, and it’s a great opportuning for them.

“It’s so frustrating to see them leave, but it also shows that we’re doing some great stuff here in Nottingham; players like Ellis (Mee), he’s a young buck who’s had an outstanding season and won all the Player of the Year awards.

“That’s not bad for a 20-year-old who;s now signed for Scarlets on a three-year-contract, and is someone who I can see playing for Wales in the next couple of years.

“Now though, we’ve some rebuilding going on in the off-season, but I’m proud of the effort that’s been put over this past year, and now, we go again.”

Nottingham finished the season in eighth place, scoring 487 points on the field of play, and collecting 47 points, from their eight victories overall.

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @NottinghamRugby Craig Hammond will see changes at the Bay this summer.

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