IGNATIANS SHOW THEIR DEFENSIVE METTLE AS LEADERS ARE PUSHED HARD
writes Jonathan Landi
LONDON TWO NORTH-WEST: DECEMBER 8TH
IGNATIANS SHOW THEIR DEFENSIVE METTLE AS TABLE TOPPERS ARE SUBJECTED TO A STIFF EXAMINATION
BELSIZE PARK 19 ENFIELD IGNATIANS 3
SHANE MANNING, the Enfield Ignatians’ player-coach, asked his side for a performance and the blue and golds responded in spades by pushing the unbeaten league leaders Belsize Park all the way in the 19-3 defeat at the Regent’s Park sports hub (December 8th).
Having scored a bonanza 41 tries in nine previous league games, Belsize Park were firm favourites but, in the face of a wonderfully spirited defensive effort by the visitors, their progress stalled.
Unfazed by the hosts’ reputation, Ignatians were the spoilers par excellence in this game and they certainly did a number on the Belsize Park lineout by making half a dozen key steals. Adding to their repertoire, Ignatians hunted ferociously at the breakdown and they upped the pressure in the set scrums where loosehead prop and Man of the Match, Dom Nott (pictured), was in fine form.
Granted the pressure applied by Ignatians, Belsize Park were denied the quick ball they craved and, despite having their elements in their favour, they were repeatedly driven back behind the gain line.
Consequently, it was only in the 39th minute that Belsize Park made their first breakthrough as they boldly ran a penalty move close to the Ignatians’ line. The gamble paid off as, with Ignatians deemed guilty of a high tackle, the referee had no hesitation in awarding the penalty try.
Responding positively in time added-on, Ignatians espoused the virtue that attack is the best form of defence by ending the half camped close to the Belsize line after winning a succession of penalties.Despite much huff and puff in the form of a couple of driving mauls, and three five-metre scrums, Ignatians’ lack of an attacking cutting edge was manifest as the Belsize defence held firm.
Ignatians immediately found themselves on their defensive in the second period and they did very well to keep their line intact in the opening minutes.
Eventually, Ignatians lifted the siege and, just when they seemed to have secured a foothold deep in Belsize territory, the seemingly hemmed-in hosts broke their shackles and swarmed up-field. It ended with the supporting Belsize Park backrower running-in from just some way out as the hosts rolled the dice and doubled their lead.
Although living a little dangerously at times, Ignatians deftly continued to use the left-boot of Jack Wilson to pepper the corners and set-up field position. They also claimed their only points of the game via a very well taken penalty attempt from Jordan Wilson whose successful angled attempt was anything but straight forward.
Belsize Park finally made the game safe in the 76th minute and, they used the platform of a driving maul to engineer their third and final try by subsequently bursting over from close range.
Ignatians continued to chase the losing bonus point and, despite having waste a good chance to score a try from an attacking lineout after allowing the ball to be rustled from under their noses, they at least had the satisfaction of becoming the first side to deny Belsize Park all five points at their central London fiefdom this season.
Coach Shane Manning said: “We set out to put in a performance and run moves, and although they didn’t come off, we were for 60 minutes the equal of the best side in the league.”
Ignatians play their final league game season before the winter break on Saturday when they entertain Hackney at Donkey Lane. (Dec 15th).
Team v Belsize Park: Jack Wilson (Jack O’Toole 70), Sam Emery, Keir Bonnar, Michael Hall, Johnny Dixon, Jake Bates ©, Jordan Wilson, Dom Nott, Christo Kasabi, Matt Pollard (S Manning (40), Gareth Rutt, Liam Horn, Liam Dunne, Dave Gear (vc) (Franki Antwi (41-70), Ben Mills.
Scorer: Jordan Wilson penalty (60m).