IGNATIANS CONTINUE FINE START TO THE CAMPAIGN
writes Jonathan Landi
LONDON TWO NORTH-WEST
IGNATIANS CONTINUE FINE START TO LEAGUE CAMPAIGN
HACKNEY 19 ENFIELD IGNATIANS 24
There is a still a long way to go on the journey and it was far from perfect. However, revenge was indeed sweet as Enfield Ignatians got one over familiar foes Hackney at Spring Hill on Saturday.
Hackney won both games against Ignatians last season but the new mood in the camp was particularly evident in the first half when they bossed the game and found themselves 15-7 in front.
Doughty opponents on their home patch, Hackney rallied strongly after the break and, in an exciting, but inevitably penalty strewn contest, they inched ever closer by clawing their way to within touching distance.
However, Ignatians, having won the lion’s share of the penalties, kept their nerve, and added to their opening day win against Grasshoppers after the nerveless Jake Bates sealed the deal with a late penalty.
Player-Coach Shane Manning said: “It’s a game which we can learn hell of a lot from. We need to look at certain aspects of our game and particularly things like our exit strategy. We could have laid down but we didn’t and, if anything, we overcomplicated matters when we got in front. However, if we go away and learn from it we can move forward as a team.”
Ignatians’ bright start found its full expression in a lion-hearted effort from the tight eight which subjected their opponents to all matters of indignities in the tight. Granted this dominant platform, they will reflect that they had the capacity if not quite the nous to have tucked away a couple more opportunities.
However, Ignatians were certainly good value for their half-time lead and they were first on the scoreboard after they claimed a fine wrap around try which was finished off by skipper Jake Bates in the corner. Hadee Fayaz made the first indentation and, with Johnny Dixon and Harry Masini also engaging the defence, Hackney were at full stretch as the latter’s neat off-load located Bates.
Ignatians’ imperious pack was at the heart of the second try and, after penalty prone Hackney were penalised for holding-on, they inevitably drilled the ball to the corner and deferred to the strength of the maul. Rumbling forward in textbook fashion, the advancing phalanx made good yardage and, despite Hackney’s attempts to halt the advance illegally, flanker Liam Dunne peeled off and forced his way over.
Captain Bates, who scored a bonanza 19 points during the game, added the extras as the well-structured visitors sailed into a 12-0 lead.
The second try also coincided with a yellow card for Ignatians’ influential prop, Dom Nott, for some careless footwork, and it was just the tonic beleaguered Hackney craved.
Exploiting Ignatians’ state of numerical inferiority and, with the defensive alignment badly out of kilter, the Griffins clawed their way back after getting behind the defence before the lock forward, cleverly varying his angle, charged his way over unopposed.
Undaunted, Ignatians got on the front foot again and forced the penalty which the nerveless Bates potted to give the visitors a deserved eight point half-time lead.
Ignatians will also reflect on some quality play from fullback Johnny Dixon, who ran the ball back with interest, while the backrowers, namely MOM Dave Gear (breakdown) and Wes Warren (great ripping work}, were a hive of activity.
If anything, Ignatians were guilty of not looking after the ball and, at times they needed to kick longer to the corners, as far too much ball ended up in the bread basket of Hackney’s dangerous fullback. Although they did prosper big time at the breakdown.
The second-half was a disappointment as Ignatians dropped off the pace and, with the intensity and work rate suffering as a result, Hackney
mounted a furious rally. Ignatians were also caught cold early doors and made the worst possible start. For after dropping off tackles, the blue and golds failed to weather the full frontal assault as Hackney moved to within a point.
Despite the lack of a territorial platform, Ignatians won a lop-sided penalty count hands down, but their structure and discipline was to prove their saving grace as Hackney tried to kill the game at ruck time. Bates took the cue and further laid into Hackney via the boot by landing two further penalties (one for holding on), but the hosts kept on running and creating chances.
Ignatians also suffered the indignity of having the ball wrenched clean from their grasp and, from turnover ball, Hackney kicked long and won the foot-race to the line to fashion try number three.
A jittery Ignatians were hanging on by fingertips at this point and, with their lead eroded to a precarious two points, they could ill afford any further lapses.The visitors’ nerves were further tested after another dangerous Hackney attack was thwarted by a try-saving tackle from Keir Bonnar, before the blue and golds eventually lifted the siege.
Ending the game in attack mode, Ignatians started to win penalties again and, with Hackney straying offside, Bates again raised his head above the parapet by tucking away the kick for a hard-fought win.
Jake Bates, successful with five of his seven pots at goal, said: “It’s probably the best Hackney have played against us and, had it been last season, we would have crumbled. It was a good win.”
As a result of London Nigerians dropping out of the league there is no game on Saturday, September 22, and the players will now turn their attentions to the away fixture at Hemel Hempstead a week later.
Squad: Johnny Dixon, Ryan Browne, Hadee Fayaz, Michael Hall, Harry Masini, Jake Bates ©, Jordan Wilson, Dom Nott, Ben Mills, Matt Pollard, Liam Horn, Charlie Hoy, Liam Dunne, Dave Gear, Wes Warren, Shane Manning, Keir Bonnar, Dan McDermott. (18).
Tries: Jake Bates, Liam Dunne.
Penalties: Jake Bates (4)
Conversions: Jake Bates (1)
MOM: Dave Gear.