Old Eds 8 Droitwich 24
Old Eds were visited by unbeaten league leaders Droitwich on a cold but still day in wet conditions.
The Eds played their best match of the season but went down 8-24 as the visitors took home a bonus-point win. Although the Eds spent long periods in the Droitwich 22, matches are won by effectiveness in that area. This proved to be the difference between the sides, as Droitwich showed deadly intent in their visits to the ‘red zone’. The Eds’ forwards all put in a good shift, and the backs were more cohesive than in previous matches. Outstanding performances came from No8 Tom Hill and Centre Craig Jones. Joe Moore backed up last week’s solid debut.
The Eds started well playing in the Droitwich half and were rewarded with a penalty near to the posts. Unfortunately, the ball hit a post and reprieved a relieved Droitwich. Eds continued to out-play the visitors a scrum on the Droitwich 22 line led to No10 Ashley Kalnins’ well-weighted pass putting Full-Back Jake Holder through the defence to within 5m of the line. The ensuing ruck was in a promising position but an unseen side-entry by the Droitwich No7 turned the ball over and the visitors made 40m upfield. Droitwich passed the ball to the left-wing and Parker made the tackle having tracked across well. The match became an arm-wrestle as Droitwich sought to break through the Eds’ defensive line. No9, Brad Darlaston’s fine penalty touch-finder again put the Eds in good position in the Droitwich 22, and the visitors’ No7 was yellow-carded for an off-side infringement. More pressure from the Eds led to a penalty as the Droitwich hooker popped out of a scrum. Brad Darlaston kicked the ball over: 3-0 after 30 minutes.
Droitwich put together their best passage of the match as they rumbled into the Eds’ 22, winning a penalty near to the Eds’ posts. Possibly expecting Droitwich to take the kick, Eds could only look n as the visitors’ No8 took a quick tap and dive over from 8 metres with four minutes remaining. The half finished at 3-7 which was poor reward for Eds positive play.
On resumption of play, the Droitwich pack maneuvered themselves close enough to the Eds’ line to push a maul over to score after five minutes: 3:14. Five minutes later, back into Eds’ territory, they engineered a gap to score again 3-19. Ahead now, Droitwich were playing with greater purpose, although the Eds again spent time in the visitor’s 22, switching play from side to side seeking scoring opportunities but thwarted by a well-organised and committed defence. Droitwich broke out of their half and put their big left-winger into space but he was well-marked by No6 Paul Levin who put him into touch a meter short of the line. Eds lost the ensuing line-out and Droitwich took advantage to score under the posts from close range. McAdam achieved a rare charge-down of the attempted conversion: 3-24. Luc Stringer took over capably from Luke Roberts on the right wing.
The Eds were far from defeated as Jones made good metres on the right wing and then Gareth Cartwright (at Lock) ran and crawled forward to make 15m in midfield. Hill and Jones combined for Jones to make an outside break but his pass was spilled. Droitwich made another break and the right wing looked certain to score but for Jones’ tap-tackle completed by J Darlaston. Eds were rightly rewarded with a try for all their efforts with just one minute to go. Moore caught a pass to his bootlaces, and the ball was fed to Jones who, once more, powered through the defence to score: 8-24 being the final score.
Eds need to come out of the festive break with the form they showed on Saturday. If they manage to do this they will easily avoid relegation.
Old Eds First Team: S Haberfield, G Parker, D McAdam, J Moore, B Jones, R Singh, P Levin, P Hill, B Darlaston, A Kalnins, N Sephton, C Jones, J Darlaston, L Roberts, J Holder
Subs: G Cartwright, S Kennedy, L Stringer