Manor denied victory at the death
Manor welcomed H.A.C to the New Wilderness this week knowing that they were in for a tough match. Newly promoted H.A.C. had showed their quality the previous week by beating fellow league newcomers Luton 74 – 19 so Manor couldn’t take their opponents lightly.
Manor kicked off the game and were soon under pressure when H.A.C. showed their desire to play the game at a fast pace, running the ball whenever they could. After a good break by one of their second rows H.A.C. were soon attacking inside Manors 22. With runners coming from deep they tested Manors defence which held up well until H.A.C.’s influential fly half put a well weighted grubber kick in behind Manors line which H.A.C. were quickest to respond to diving on the ball and scoring the first try of the match. The touchline conversion was missed but after only 4 minutes the visitors held a 0 – 5 lead.
H.A.C. continued to have the better of the exchanges and only good defence from Manor kept them away from the try line and when Robb Falls competed at the breakdown he won a penalty which allowed Manor to get out of their 22. H.A.C. were soon back in Manors 22 where a knock on halted another attack resulting in the first scrum of the game. Here Manor had the upper hand winning a penalty which they kicked to touch for a lineout. With the throw in won the ball was passed to Nick Horton, but Manor forwards hadn’t set up their defences properly allowing H.A.C. to break through and charge down Hortons clearance kick. The visitors chased after the ball taking play into Manors 22 where Elliot Brown found himself as the last line of defence. He tackled the ball carrier but the attacker managed to get the pass away to his support but luckily for Manor the pass went forward and a certain try was denied.
Still Manor were unable to get out of their half with H.A.C. controlling the game but as the visitors moved the ball swiftly along their line Ivan Tustanowskyj spotted an interception opportunity but was just unable to control the ball otherwise he had a clear run to the try line.
With H.A.C. still in the ascendency they continued to attack inside Manors 22 where despite Manors defensive efforts, the pressure eventually told as the visitors broke through and scored a 7 point score under the posts. After 20 minutes Manor found themselves 0 – 12 down and staring down the barrel of a heavy defeat.
Manor began to come to life and started to win the forward battle which in turn caused their opponents to give away a number of penalties. From one penalty Horton spotted the opportunity for a quick tap and go taking play towards H.A.C. ‘s 22 before linking up with Tustanowskyj who took the ball into the 22 before setting up a ruck. Manor forwards were there in numbers allowing quick ball to be fed to Jack Emerson, he crashed through a number of tackles before being brought to ground, but as he fell he skilfully passed the ball out of the back of his hand to the supporting Matt Oaks who crashed over the line to score despite the best efforts of the covering defenders. Emerson was successful with the difficult conversion and Manor were now back in the game 7 – 12 after 28 minutes.
H.A.C. came back at Manor and after another good forward break they again attacked Manors line and after going through a number of phases they scored their third try in at the corner. Although the conversion was missed with 35 minutes played the visitors had increased their lead to 7 – 17.
It was now Manors turn to put pressure on their opponents and after good ground being made by Manors centres Nick Sheppard and Aaron Lowe, Brown kicked the ball ahead and led the chase as the ball went into the dead ball area but was beaten to the touch down by the covering defence. Manor were able to capitalise on a poor 22 drop out which went directly into touch giving Manor an attacking scrum which they were awarded a penalty at when H.A.C. were unable to hold the Manor drive. Emerson took the penalty attempt but somewhat surprisingly missed what for him was a straight forward kick.
Manor finished the half the stronger of the two sides and had H.A.C. under pressure inside their half. It was now H.A.C’s turn to have a kick charged down when Brad Burrell put pressure on the kicker and as he charged the ball down Horton reacted the quickest and pounced onto the loose ball before sprinting the 25 meters to the line to score Manors second try. The conversion was missed but with the ref blowing for halftime Manor were at least back in the game at 12 – 17.
With H.A.C. kicking off the second half they initially had the upper hand attacking in Manors 22 until Lowe managed to strip the ball from an attackers grasp before breaking through a couple of tackles and sending a long clearance kick into H.A.C’s half. The chase was led by Brown and Ollie Phillips and although a defender reached the ball first he was bundled into touch. Manor won the lineout and drove the ball forward until they were awarded a penalty which they again kicked to touch for a lineout. With Falls winning the ball at the back Manor again set up a driving maul but this was stopped illegally allowing Manor to kick for yet another lineout. When this lineout and driving maul was again stopped illegally Manor were awarded another penalty and a H.A.C. forward was sent to the sin bin. Manor took the option of yet another lineout which was won by Harry Reid, then after George Cosma and Misiona Evagelia were both stopped just short of the line, the ball made it’s way to Oaks who crashed over the line for his second try of the match. Sheppard took the conversion but it drifted just wide but after 15 minutes of the second half Manor had tied the scores at 17 all.
Manor now enjoyed a period of possession where their forwards in particular were knocking their opponents back each time they drove forward. Jack Sullivan and second half substitute Michael Byrne made good hard yards before Emerson fed his backline where Brown put in a kick and chase into H.A.C’s 22 where the ball was knocked on giving Manor an attacking scrum. With Manor getting the nudge on in the scrum the ball went along Manors backline where another Manor substitute, George Harman took a crash ball driving over the line but was just held up giving Manor a 5 meter scrum. From here Manor laid siege to their opponents line with Byrne, Cosma and Evagelia all stopped just short of the line, but each time Manor patiently went through the phases before Emerson went for the line and although he initially looked to have been stopped short of the line, he had the strength to carry on driving over the line and grounded the ball for Manors fourth, bonus point try. With Sheppard adding the extra points, for the first time in the match Manor held the lead 24 – 17 after 25 minutes.
Manor continued to have the upper hand although H.A.C. were still dangerous in attack. Manor continued to search for another score and from a scrum inside Manors half, Horton darted down the blindside before feeding Harman who powered into H.A.C.’s 22, here he managed to offload the ball before being knocked into touch. The supporting Waugh picked up the ball and drove within a few meters of the try line before a crunching tackle took him to ground. He tried to pop the ball to Lowe, but the centre was unable to hang on to the pass otherwise he would have been over for another Manor try.
Manor had the next scoring opportunity when they won a penalty at a scrum just inside H.A.C’s half. From 40 meters out Sheppard took on the kick at goal but the ball went agonisingly just wide.
With time almost up H.A.C. set up one last concerted effort to score the final points. Keeping possession well inside Manors 22 they eventually managed to work an overlap out wide where they went in at the corner to bring them within 2 points of Manor. The touchline conversion was attempted and never looked like missing as it dissected the posts to bring the scores level and with it the end of the contest.
In the huddle after the game the Manor players were disappointed with their performance, especially in the first 20 minutes of the match and felt that they were capable of playing at a higher level. To the independent spectator a draw may have been seen as the right result, H.A.C. were a good side who will cause most of the teams in the league problems. For the Manor players though it was a case of a victory lost.
Next week Old Fullerians visit the New Wilderness and although they have had a difficult start to the season they will provide Manor with a stern test, but it is one that Manor can overcome providing they play to their full potential.