RUGBY ROUND-UP: How did your team fare?
The EADT’S new weekend rugby union round-up featuring teams from the London, Eastern Counties, Essex and Suffolk Merit leagues
LONDON 1 NORTH
Eton Manor 19
COLCHESTER narrowly lost out in this keenly-contested top-of-the-table clash.
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Both teams played exciting, fast-moving rugby on the well-maintained Colchester pitch, but Eton Manor proved to be the better finishers.
The visitors worked hard to win turnover ball, isolating and robbing Colchester’s attackers before counter attacking, playing the ball out of tackles to maintain forward momentum.
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Colchester threatened but failed to turn pressure into points.
The home team started strongly, but Eton Manor demonstrated a well-organised defence before mounting their own attacks.
Strong-running centres, Callum McKie and Ben Thomas repeatedly crossed the game line, their pack quickly recycling ball.
An offside penalty enabled Eton Manor fly-half, Max Murray to kick to near the Colchester line.
The line-out catch and drive drew in Colchester’s defenders before the ball was spun along the line where Alex Hunter crashed under the posts for the opening try, converted by Murray.
The re-start kick was recovered by Colchester lock Elliot Castle who drove forward. Eton Manor conceded a penalty for preventing early release and skipper James Crozier kicked Colchester’s first three points.
Colchester upped their game to control the second-quarter, flanker, Ollie White producing a man-of-the-match performance.
Centre Rick Chadwick’s strong running made ground, Damien Brambley mixing his handling and kicking game to keep the visitors on their toes.
Recycled ball through several phases, saw Colchester edge forward against a well-drilled defence.
No.8 Martin Browne broke from the base of a scrum on the right to link with fly-half Damien Brambley who switched play. Quick ball found left wing Jon Vine to zoom in from 35 metres for an unconverted try.
The second-half saw Eton Manor rally. Colchester were unable to clear and scrum-half Nick Horton’s kick into space, saw the visitors turn over possession and mount a series of forward drives, culminating in hooker Tryson Goodchild’s converted try.
With their line under sustained pressure, Eton Manor conceded penalties and James Crozier punished them with a three-point conversion.
From the re-start, Colchester were penalised and Eton Manor kicked to near the hosts’ line. A catch and drive again drew defenders before a long pass found Ian Edwards who dived through to score, Murray converted.
Colchester threw all they had at their visitors, replacements Carl Jeffs and Dan Whiteman making ground, but the Eton Manor defence just held out, conceding penalties, knowing that Colchester needed two scores.
At the end, Crozier added his third conversion with the last kick of the game, earning Colchester a losing bonus point.
LONDON 2 NORTH Old Streetonians 12 Chelmsford 38
CHELMSFORD recorded a comfortable win against a committed Old Streetonians side at Hackney.
The visitors took a firm hold on the game, to go in at half-time with a 24-0 lead.
Chelmsford had a chance to score a try in the first minute, but Seb Hill was tackled into touch near the line.
Chelmsford opened the scoring after five minutes when fly-half Simon Hoult slotted over a 35-metre penalty after the home side were caught offside.
Chelmsford’s first try was scored after 15 minutes, courtesy of a chip kick by Hoult, who caught his own kick and broke the covering tackle to score a well-worked try which he duly converted to make the score 10-0.
Five minutes later, Hoult scored his second try when he fed the ball to Rhys Mason, who broke clear. With Hoult in support, Mason slipped the ball back to him for a converted try near the posts.
The home side tried to play an open game, but the Chelmsford defence held firm and gradually, Streetonians seemed to run out of ideas.
As a consequence it was no surprise when Chelmsford went further ahead. Seb Hill stole the ball back from the opposition, just outside their 22-metre line, and then out-sprinted the cover defence to record the visitors’ third try, which was converted.
Just five minutes into the half, Chelmsford scored their fourth try through a typical burst from centre Nick Hankin. The try was converted.
At 31-0 up, Chelmsford were disrupted when flanker Paul Redford was yellow-carded for throwing the ball away and, in his absence, Old Streetonians came back strongly to record two tries of their own.
Chelmsford had lost some of their fluency, but they came back strongly and scored their fifth and final try when Hill broke clear and passed to Andy Gallagher, who in turn found Hill to record his second try, Smedley converting.
Braintree 29 Saffron Walden 10
BRAINTREE maintained their 100 per cent home record with a convincing bonus point-win.
The black and ambers made a good start to the game and went ahead when Walden were forced into touch from the kick-off.
From the resultant line-out, the hosts’ forwards worked the ball up the field and eventually, Joss Adams to score an unconverted try.
A missed penalty on five minutes proved costly when the visitors equalised on 15 minutes, Paul Marshall finishing off a slick midfield move to outpace the home defence.
Braintree missed another penalty on 17 minutes but regained the lead 11 minutes later after securing a five-metre scrum from line-out ball, following a penalty to touch.
The ball was worked wide to full-back Kingsley Joslin who released wing Dan Young to score in the corner before converting.
The hosts started the second half on the front foot and one of the Walden props was yellow-carded for coming in at the side.
Braintree extended their lead just five minutes into the second-half when Neil Fitzearle picked up and powered over the line from ten metres out for a score that was converted by Joslin.
Their opponents clawed back some of the deficit on the hour when fly-half Harry Beddows scored an unconverted try to cut the gap to 19-10.
But it served only to spur Braintree on and replacement, Darren Page got in on the act during a midfield move.
The ball was fed to Fitzearle who cantered away from 20 metres out to cap a marvellous display with an improbable second try.
The points were secured with a fifth try on 79 minutes, Adams scoring in the corner.
EASTERN COUNTIES 1 Crusaders 19 Harwich & Dovercourt 13
HARWICH took the lead as early as the first minute after Crusaders dropped the ball in their own half.
From the resulting scrum, man-of-the-match Robert Edgar took the ball on, making good ground after supporting the Harwich back-line.
The ball was then fed along the backs before it came to prop Clark Simpson to drive over and score. With Sam Male missing the kick Harwich were 5-0 up.
Five minutes later, Crusaders hit back when a poor clearance from Harwich bounced out for the hosts’ winger to score and convert the try.
Harwich responded immediately from kick-off with Male converting a penalty from 25 yards.
At 8-7 ahead this looked like it would be a close game.
However, for the rest of the first half, Harwich capitulated at every breakdown. Whereas Crusaders were throwing men into the fray, Harwich were standing off and losing the ball.
Equally, Harwich’s choice of kicking was sub-standard, putting themselves under further pressure.
On 30 minutes, Crusaders took a deserved lead with a converted score under the posts making the score 14-8.
Ten minutes later, Crusaders knew Harwich were feeling the pressure and took a scrum penalty under the posts from which they scored again, making the half time score 19-8.
In the second-half, Harwich came out a different team.
Now fighting for every ball, they pinned Crusaders in their own half.
A break from the middle of the park saw Kyle Hutchins score, although the conversion was missed.
At 19-13, Harwich were in the game but time and again, Crusaders managed to stem the Harwich pressure.
With 15 minutes to go, Harwich thought they had scored when Jay Hatcher touched down, only to see the try disallowed by the touch-judge.
With Harwich applying more and more pressure, they just couldn’t get through the Crusaders’ defence.
With only minutes to go, Edgar thought he had scored in the corner, only for the try to be disallowed again.
Harwich came away with a losing bonus-point on a day where they should have picked up all four points.
EASTERN COUNTIES 2 Norwich Medics 36 Mistley 17
AFTER a decisive victory against Mildenhall the week before, Mistley went to Norwich in confident mood.
Despite injuries, Mistley called up Sean Weddle, Chris Humphreys, Simon Carter and Gavin Richardson from the second team. They all played with great spirit and came up to the mark very well
On a cold afternoon, the game started at an even pace for the first ten minutes and after an excellent run by Tobias Phillips, Mistley nearly scored their first try.
However after that, the Norwich Medics, albeit well-matched by Mistley’s scrum, had some very fast young men in the three-quarter line who began to exert their presence.
They scored first and a few minutes later scored again, as they won a penalty.
At 10-0 down Mistley suddenly produced a spurt of running from Stephen Betts to allow Mike Stephens to score and, with a successful kick by Ed Barrie, reduced the deficit to 10-7
There followed an injury to Nick Graves who was playing in the centre.
After that, Mistley seemed to lack any dominance and the Norwich Medics scored three tries in quick succession and together with some excellent place kicking increased their lead to 31-7 at half-time
Mistley came out as a different team in the second half, however Norwich’s high-kicking fought back and did not allow Mistley to cross the line.
A penalty awarded to Mistley was successfully converted by Ed Barrie. Mistley hit back with a hard-fought try from Ryan Knapton, Barrie converting.
Within minutes Norwich Medics responded with a final try to wrap up victory.