Bonus point win for Manor in a feisty contest.
Manor welcomed Fullerians to the New Wilderness this week and although they were yet to win a game this season they were expected to give Manor a firm test. As it turned out Manor ran out comfortable winners but the game was a feisty affair where a number of yellow cards and a red were shown and Manors influential centre Nick Sheppard had to be carried from the field with what has turned out to be a badly broken foot. We wish Nick well as he begins the long road to recovery.
Manor got the game underway and after Ollie Waugh won a penalty at the breakdown Manor enjoyed a period of pressure inside Fullerians 22. They used their forwards to good effect where George Cosma, Matt Oaks and Misiona Evagelia all drove at the line with only good defending stopping them crossing. Manor kept control of the ball then fed it along their backline where George Harman and Aaron Lowe executed a pre-planned move before feeding returning winger Michael Eghan who had too much pace and power for the covering defence and went in at the corner for Manors first try. Sheppard was unsuccessful with the touchline conversion but after 10 minutes of the match Manor had opened their account 5 – 0.
Manor immediately attacked from the restart where Waugh made the initial ground before linking up with prop Michael Byrne who set off on a powerful run taking play close to Fullerians 22 before Harman put in a grubber kick which Manor chased and although Fullerians gathered the ball Manor kept them pinned inside their 22. Again Manor charged at the line but bad ball retention gave possession away and allowed their opponents to clear their lines.
It wasn’t long though before Manor were back inside the visitors 22, here Jack Sullivan had a barnstorming run and the opposition did well to bring him down short of the line. Fullerians were warned by the referee about the number of penalties they were giving away and it looked certain that Manor would score again after Cameron Dutch was brought to ground, again just short of the line, but Manor did not protect the ball and allowed Fullerians to kick the ball away from danger.
Still Manor continued to play inside Fullerians 22 and when another attack was brought down just short of the line Nick Horton went to feed the ball out to his backs but an opposition prop came through offside and was yellow carded for his troubles. Horton took a quick tap feeding Byrne who crashed over the line with defenders hanging onto him, but couldn’t ground the ball giving Manor a 5 metre scrum. With the put in secured Waugh picked up from the base and powered over the line for a seven point score, which was no more than Manors superiority deserved. With 30 minutes gone Manor had stretched their lead to 12 – 0.
From the restart Fullerians won possession then with almost their first period of attacking play worked an overlap for their winger to go in at the corner for a well taken try. The conversion was missed but the visitors were back in the game at 12 – 5.
Manors reply was almost immediate when from the restart Fullerians ran the ball back at Manor but at the breakdown Waugh turned the ball over allowing Manor to feed the ball out to Eghan on the wing, he handed off his opposite number before taking play close to Fullerians 22 where although tackled, he managed to feed the supporting Harman who outpaced the defence to score Manors third try. With the conversion successful Manor had increased their lead to 19 – 5 but in the build up to the try Sheppard was injured and had to be replaced by debutant Carly BUISSON.
Although time was nearly up Fullerians had the chance to pressurise Manor inside their 22 but a dangerous tackle by their winger on Eghan saw another yellow card and allowed Manor to clear their lines. But with the last play of the game Fullerians again attacked inside Manors 22 but dropped the ball, Lowe was quickest to the loose ball hacking it up field a couple of times before gathering it up and passing to Ivan Tustanowskyj who sped over the line from 20 meters out to score Manors bonus point fourth try. Dutch had taken over the kicking duties and added the extra points as the ref blew halftime with Manor leading 24 – 5.
The second half began with Manor having to defend just outside their own 22 before Sullivan managed to hold the ball up winning Manor a scrum. From here they launched another attack when Waugh again broke off the back of the scrum before setting the ball up, with quick recycled ball Dutch put in a well judged cross field kick which Eghan gathered on his wing before rounding his man and setting off upfield. When was eventually stopped outside Fullerians 22 he managed to offload to the supporting Lowe who had the pace to reach the try line to score another try for Manor. The conversion from out wide was successful and the home side had increased their lead to 31 – 5.
Fullerians now came back at Manor and after a period of attacking pressure inside the hosts 22 they won a scrum. They secured the ball and after series of driving runs by their forwards they crossed the line for their second try of the game and with a successful conversion they had reduced Manors lead to 31 – 12 after 12 minutes of the second half.
The score seemed to revitalise Fullerians and from the restart they again worked their way into Manors 22 but were unable to break through Manors defence. As they attacked Harman isolated their ball carrier and stripped him of possession, he then counter attacked up the middle of the park where he made it into Fullerians half before offloading out of a tackle to Horton who showed a clear pair of heels to the chasing defenders and ran in from close to halfway to score another 7 point try and in doing so increased Manors lead to 38 – 12 after 15 minutes.
From the re-start substitute Frank Sullivan gathered the kick and charged up field making excellent ground before linking up with Byrne who took play into Fullerians 22 where the attack came to a halt when Manor knocked the ball on when trying to move it along the line.
Fullerians again worked their way back up field and were rewarded for their efforts when from an attacking scrum they managed to break Manors defensive line and go in for their third try of the match narrowing the gap to 38 – 17 after 22 minutes.
Manors reply was immediate when from the restart Fullerians let the ball bounce, as Robb Falls chased the kick the ball hit him in the face taking it closer to Fullerians 22, here as a defender tried to gather the ball Falls got his boot to it kicking it forward allowing him to gather up the ball. With the ball under control he raced towards the line but in a desperate attempt to stop a try a Fullerians player tackled Falls from the rear grabbing him around the shoulder and neck. Although this didn’t stop Falls from getting over the line to score it did earn the defender yet another yellow card. With Dutch again successful with the difficult conversion Manor moved the score along to 45 – 17 after 25 minutes.
Soon it was Manors turn to lose a player to the bin when on halfway after Fullerians had broken out from their 22, Falls put in a covering tackle which the ref deemed as high and after giving an earlier team warning he sent Falls to the bin.
Manor continued to have the better of attacking play with Eghan and Tustanowskyj linking well before Jack Sullivan carried on the attack deep into Fullerians half but when a knock on brought play to a halt a large number of players got involved in a melee which seemed to center around the Fullerians scrum half. When the ref eventually managed to gain control the Fullerains scrum half, who had been dishing out cheap shots all afternoon, was shown a yellow card and Manors Buisson was shown a straight red for punching.
The game now seemed to fizzle out as a contest but Manor did create one last scoring opportunity when the difficult to stop Eghan crashed through the center before the ball was moved out wide to Tustanowskyj who rounded the first defender taking the ball into Fullerians 22 but couldn’t evade the second defender who did just enough to push Tustanowskyj into touch and ending the game.
Manor had won the contest but at a cost, with Sheppard resigned to an extended time out of the game and Buisson not available for selection due to his red card Manor will face next weeks long trip to Diss with a changed side. Although Diss are winless this season a combination of the journey and home advantage will make them a difficult side to overcome.