IGNATIANS DWELL ON THE POSITIVES DESPITE COMING UNSTUCK ON THE HEATH
Writes Jon Landi
ENFIELD IGNATIANS ended their league campaign with a 39-18 loss to Hampstead, and although they recorded one less win (seven) compared to last season (eight), they did ironically have the consolation of finishing a place higher, in ninth, in the final London Two North-West table.
There was only four points in it the last time the two sides met in September at Donkey Lane, but since then Hampstead's campaign has really taken off, although the league's third best side were certainly given a run for their money.
However, Ignatians didn't hold back and their constant pressure brought a tangible reward on three minutes, when Jake Bates rifled over the first of his two first-half penalties.
Hampstead responded three minutes later and their fly-half and Man of the Match made the first telling following a successful chip and gather, before landing a second try on minutes after running a very good line off his forwards.
Not that Ignatians ever flinched the issue and, on the half-hour mark, Bates again put the boot into
Hampstead after rifling over his second penalty after the hosts were penalised were coming in at the side to bring the score back to 10-6.
A fairly even contest had developed up to that point but Ignatians' skipper, Keir Bonnar, felt that Hampstead had the greater cutting edge and that was again manifest on 37 minutes when a successful number eight pick-up from the back of the scrum fired the hosts 17-6 in front at the break.
Hampstead extended their lead five minutes after the interval by successfully stretching Ignatians from side to side, and after Ignatians had to readjust following an injury to Cairo Sango, the hosts hammered home their advantage by adding a fifth. The try was certainly very well worked and followed a excellent steal by the openside in the tackle, which proved the prelude to the fly-half waltzing over for his hat-trick.
Ignatians rallied after this and landed their first try approaching the 60th minute. Hampstead lost a player to the sin-bin at this point and, from the resulting penalty, Ignatians drilled the ball to the corner
before successfully farming the catch and drive opportunity to work in hooker Ben Mills.
Bates made no mistake with the boot by adding the conversion as the scoreline assumed an altogether more respectable air as the blue and golds trailed 27-13.
There was element of incredulity regarding the sixth Hampstead try, as the referee failed to spot a glaring knock-on. However, the Hammers were firmly in the box-seat and a chip and chase from the outside centre wrapped-up the scoring for the hosts.
To their credit, Ignatians never gave up and had the final say and, from another catch and drive attempt, which this time was held-up, they then deferred to the back-line and the end product was
replacement Lewis Ward squeezing in at the corner.
Captain Keir Bonnar said: "We played well in patches. However, Hampstead were the more clinical of the two sides. They fed off our errors and took their chances well. Frank Antwi was our Man of the Match. He made some good carries and was the also the author of a strong defensive effort."