Rhinos scrape victory

Elmbridge 22 Ipswich Rhinos 24THE Denny Pryce Ipswich Rhinos scraped home against a plucky Elmbridge side with a disjointed performance in a scrappy Eastern Region League Conference South game full of errors and penalties.

Elmbridge 22 Ipswich Rhinos 24

THE Denny Pryce Ipswich Rhinos scraped home against a plucky Elmbridge side with a disjointed performance in a scrappy Eastern Region League Conference South game full of errors and penalties.

Ipswich started well when, on nine minutes, Lee Clasby sidestepped his tackler creating space to off-load to Brendan Cook.

Cook made a number of yards under pressure before slipping the ball to Darryl Walters in close support to cross under the posts to give Peter LeMarquand an easy conversion and the Rhinos a 6-0 lead.


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The Rhinos failed to maintain their early authority and mid-way through the first half were dealt a double blow.

Mid-tackle set on the half way, the Elmbridge loose forward broke through the Ipswich defence and outpaced the defenders to score a converted try.

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In the build-up to the try, Brendan Cook, who had had an impressive first quarter, turned an ankle and limped out of the game.

Some of the Ipswich players were starting to let their frustrations show and, with 10 minutes to go to half-time, the Rhinos had a player sin-binned for dropping on a player after the tackle had been made.

From the penalty, Elmbridge spun the ball across the pitch to score wide for a 12-6 lead, which they extended to 18-6 on the stroke of half-time with a try from a kick and chase.

Ipswich started the second half with more authority and, from their first tackle set, forced Elmbridge to kick out from under their own posts.

Rod Arbon, who has been outstanding on the wing this season and a clear winner of the Collier and Catchpole man-of-the-match award, ran the ball back to within yards of the Elmbridge line before it was spun wide to Glyn Thomas to score.

Within minutes, Ipswich levelled the scores. Lee Clasby secured a loose ball lost in a tackle to set up a series of big hits to drive Elmbridge back under their posts, where the biggest hitter of all, Paul LeMarquand, crashed through defenders to cross the line.

But the try came at a cost. In the build-up, Richard Burton, so often an unsung hero of the Rhinos because of his quiet efficiency, was caught by a knee in the face leaving him with a nasty cut to the eye, requiring stitches.

With two big tacklers now sidelined, coach Andrew Skipper had to constantly reshuffle the team to rest players as Elmbridge started to come back into the game and were rewarded for their efforts at the start of the final quarter when awarded back-to-back sets.

The Elmbridge winger, on the end of a fluent passing move, found a gap to score an unconverted try.

With 12 minutes to go, excellent ball carrying from Walters and Peter LeMarquand, from a penalty on half way, set up Paul LeMarquand to add his second try, carrying ball and tacklers over the line from 10 metres. Peter LeMarquand converting to give the Rhinos a crucial two-point lead.

Elmbridge fought desperately in the final 10 minutes to regain a game snatched from their grasp but in their desperation made a number of errors which enabled the Rhinos to run down the clock for a slender victory.

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