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Hard-hitting Hampstead Ladies are ready to tackle the top teams after taking pole position

PUBLISHED: 10:00 06 October 2016

Hampstead Ladies captain Faye Hamp. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hampstead Ladies captain Faye Hamp. Pic: Paolo Minoli

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Captain Faye Hamp believes a hard-hitting Hampstead Ladies side are ready to tackle the best teams in the league and push for a top-two finish after she and her team-mates emulated the club’s male counterparts by moving to the top of the table.

Kristina Mouridsen, who scored twice, touches down. Pic: Paolo MinoliKristina Mouridsen, who scored twice, touches down. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hampstead’s men’s first team won 36-12 at Welywn on Saturday, holding on to top spot in London Division Two North-West – and the following day the women followed suit after beating and leapfrogging the previous leaders, Tonbridge Juddian.

Perhaps there was some magic in the jerseys – both sides wore the same kit at the weekend after the ladies accidentally picked up the men’s uniforms. However, Hamp and her colleagues had to do it the hard way after a decisive late try.

Tonbridge took an early lead but Hampstead’s skipper then touched down and Kristina Mouridsen crossed the whitewash twice, while Micha Palmer also scored on her return from a shoulder injury and hooker Fran Hall snatched a try for the forwards.

Nonetheless Hampstead trailed 28-27 with five minutes left – but excellent handling from the forwards spread the ball out to winger Souka Trouiller, who went over the line, and Hall added her second conversion.

Micha Palmer (centre) crossed the line on her return from injury. Pic: Paolo MinoliMicha Palmer (centre) crossed the line on her return from injury. Pic: Paolo Minoli

“I think around the contact areas, especially the aggression, we’ve really picked it up,” Hamp told Ham&High Sport. “People are really meaning it in those hits, and generally we’re playing at a much quicker tempo.

“We’ve got a new coaching set-up this year and we’ve got loads of new recruits. Generally we approached pre-season a little bit differently. Rather than just doing fitness, we did a lot more rugby-based drills and looked at that tackle area early on.

“Last season we didn’t really do that much contact but this time it’s been a regular part of training. Even if people don’t like running against their team-mates, we’ve been doing that a lot more regularly.

“We’ve got a good squad and numbers have been really good. After the Old Albanians game at the start of the season, where we only lost by two points, I knew we could do well, and this week was going to be our toughest week.

Souka Trouiller (left) scored Hampstead's late winning try. Pic: Paolo MinoliSouka Trouiller (left) scored Hampstead's late winning try. Pic: Paolo Minoli

“Tonbridge have just come up but they’ve been doing very well, so to get a bonus point win against them is great and it’s put us at the top of the league, which is where we want to ultimately be.”

Hampstead finished sixth out of eight teams last season but the early signs are that they can afford to aim much higher this time.

“Normally we sort of fit into that top three,” said Hamp. “Last season wasn’t a great season for us but it’s started to pick up.

“Tonbridge beat [last season’s champions] Blackheath at the start of the season, so knowing that we can beat them, that sets a good precedent.

“At the start we were thinking ‘maybe top three’ but going on how we’ve been playing, we’d definitely like to be in the top two.

“We’ve got new teams in our league so there’s now nine. I think it’s good for the league. Last year we played the same teams in cup matches as well, so it’s been quite nice to play teams like Southwold and Tonbridge - to play against opposition where we didn’t know how they were going to play. It made us play our rugby rather than anticipating what they were going to do.”

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