IGNATIANS FATALLY LOSE THE PLOT AFTER STRONG BEGINNING
TABARD: 19 - ENFIELD IGNATIANS: 15
LONDON TWO NORTH-WEST: FEBRUARY 17
The unthinkable happened to the unsinkable as Enfield Ignatians, from a position of comparative dominance, let slip a must-win game against bottom of the league Tabard as their poor away form again raised its ugly head in the form of a 19-15 loss at Cobden Hill on Saturday. It isn’t terminal as far as Enfield Ignatians are concerned. However, the pressure is mounting for the tenth-placed blue and golds, and it places added emphasis on their remaining five games in London Two North-West, beginning with the tricky home fixture against Chiswick on Saturday week.
Despite not firing on all cylinders, Ignatians’ dominant scrummage kicked-in during the first period, and although Tabard drew first blood after Jack Reilly nailed a penalty for the off-side, the blue and golds went on the attack and scored two tries.
A searing break from New Zealand fullback and Man of the Match Johnny Dixon (Pictured) set up the first score, and after he was brought down yards from the line, he laid on the ball for Jake Bates who snuck around the blindside and scored.
Another telling break from Dixon preceded the second score. However, this time the forwards carried the work to termination with good carries from Aaron James-Nicholls and Matt Pollard setting up a popular score for second row Liam Horn who went-in under the sticks. Bates added the conversion but Ignatians, off a glut of good possession, and their set scrum driving Tabard off the ball almost at will, they were wasteful and, having sighted the line on two occasion only to carelessly coughed up possession as the hosts were granted a reprieve.
If anything Ignatians’ failure to cash in was to prove their undoing and Tabard eroded Ignatians’ lead to six points after Reilly landed his second penalty to make it 12-6 to the visitors at the break.
Losing the influential Dave Gear hardly helped. However, Ignatians’ second-half performance was tame in comparison, and in game which became increasingly scrappy and one in which the off-side line was policed very liberally, the blue and golds wilted in the confusion of it all.
The underdog spirit of Tabard kicked-in and, with the visitors needlessly putting themselves under pressure after cheaply conceding a five-metre scrum, they paid the price despite the blue and golds getting the shove on. Against the odds, a Tabard splinter group retained possession, and the secondary surge enabled Aaron Priscott to force his way over.
A stung Ignatians went back on the attack and, excellent work from the re-start from Charlie Hoy helped force the penalty. Bates stepped-up and planted the ball between the sticks as the visitors regained a slender lead.It proved to be flash in the pan and, with Ignatians increasingly losing the territorial battle, as well as Bates to the sin-bin ten minutes from time, the odds started to mount up against the blue and golds.
Tabard retook the lead after winning three penalties in succession with Reilly striking at the last time of asking as the hosts gained a one point lead. The home side also had a try disallowed for a forward pass. Despite their travails, Ignatians had a golden chance to win the game two minutes from the time. The winning of a five-metre scrum should by rights have been the passport to glory and, despite making good yardage, poor decision making proved fatal.
For all chance of landing a pushover blow from the advancing phalanx was negated after the ball was whipped out too quickly from the scrum; and, with the backs subsequently hit hard in the tackle, Tabard regained possession and swarmed up-field. Now on the defensive, Ignatians conceded another penalty in desperation and Reilly, who kicked well all afternoon, landed the proverbial nail in the coffin by converting his fifth kick at goal as the visitors were left to contemplate the painful retreat inward.
Coach Ali Cook: “Our game management left a lot to be desired and there were a lot of things that we should have done and didn’t. Ultimately, this is down to us and no one else. Tabard deserved the win and we have a lot of hard work to do in our final five games.”
Team: Johnny Dixon, Harry Massini (Carl Asare-Anderson 56m). George Cox, Keir Bonnar, Cairo Sango, Jake Bates (cpt), Jordan Wilson, Matt Pollard, Ben Mills, William Bruce (Luke Stack 50), Liam Horn, Aaron James-Nicholls, Charlie Hoy, Dave Gear (Frazer Briers 30), Luke Stack (41m Frank Antwi).
Scorers: Tries: Jake Bates 7, Liam Horn 22. Conversions: Jake Bates 23. Penalties: Jake Bates (45).
Star Man: Johnny Dixon.