Senior Academy (Under 18s) Fall To Last Minute Sucker Punch
ENFIELD IGNATIANS U18s (Senior Academy): 7 - ETON MANOR U18s: 12
Friendly: 3rd December 2017
It was an agonising one for the U18s as, after making all the running in a scrappy contest, they were subsequently punished in the last minute of the game after Eton Manor, with the line in sight, went for broke and squeezed in at the corner to deny the blue and golds.
In a game frequently punctuated by the referee's whistle, continuity was never on the menu, but, in parts, Ignatians played some good rugby, and appreciated the need to use the siege-gun boot of Calum Middleton to set up some good field positions.
They were also quick to counter-attack and get good width on their game, and with livewire left winger Harry Grosch, a constant menace when in possession, and prone to pop up here, there and everywhere, the early force was certainly with the blue and golds.
Given the added dominance of the Ignatians' tight eight, which literally backed their opponents into a corner, they also won a string of penalties close to the line and, on the seventh attempt, the muscular figure of Australian Tyson Skrypek finally barrelled his way over.
Middleton, who added to his repertoire with a whole-hearted defensive effort which entailed some good counter-rucking, added the extras as Ignatians made a telling statement.
However, it wasn't the final one as Eton Manor, despite having one of their players injured - and we wish him a speedy recovery - which entailed the game being moved to an adjoining pitch after a seven minute delay, came more and more into it.
Although losing the territorial battle in the second-half, Ignatians never flinched the issue in defence and, although Eton Manor eventually broke through via their first try, the blue and golds put in three try-saving tackles prior to conceding the score half-way through the second-half. Still, with the conversion missed, Ignatians were left holding on to a precarious two points lead, and they must have sensed a chink of light or two after camping close to the Manor try-line in the final minutes, but regrettably were unable to capitalise on their hard-won territorial gain. Instead, Manor broke free from their shackles, swarmed up-field and, in the final seconds, farmed a simple overlap opportunity, which with the successful conversion, finally swung the pendulum the way of the visitors. It was that kind of a game.
Coach Jack Wilson said: "We were a little lackadaisical at times and allowed Eton Manor to win the game. We had some good go forward via the pack but, what we didn't do, was go in our pods and this enabled Eton Manor to slow down our ball and re-set their defence."