Old Eds 24 Southam 20
Old Eds End Losing Streak
This gritty relegation battle saw 2 sides determined not to lose out and was contested literally to the last second when a forward pass thwarted Southam’s final attack. The deciding factor in the match was the Eds’ forwards’ superiority, and the game management required to maneuver them into the ‘red zone’ to batter their way to the try line. Eds’ scrum-power forced Southam into hurrying their retreating scrums which denied them good ball from the set-piece. Nevertheless, Southam produced good rugby of their own and indeed drove the Eds’ forwards back for one of their tries.
The first half was evenly contested with the Eds starting well and were soon in good position near to the Southam line when the Southam No9 stopped a promising move by batting the ball down, receiving an obvious yellow-card. Eds dominated the first ten minutes, but Southam fought back and spent the next ten minutes in the Eds’ half – culminating in a successful penalty kick: 0-3.
Eds had a good period of play – recycling quick ball and sending their ball-carriers crashing into the opposition. No6 Paul Levin was particularly prominent on the ball. A deliberate Southam knock-on yielded a penalty from 40m which was missed. The Eds’ scrum was becoming clearly dominant. An Eds’ fumble in midfield enabled Southam to kick long and No14 Roberts did extremely well to field and then stay on his feet. Scrum-Half Tom Short’s up-and-under was well-chased by No2 Parker and Roberts, and the return kick led to a fine return by Full-Back Dan Elkerton – beating three tackles in the process. The first period ended 0-3 to Southam.
For the second half Sam Southall and Gareth Cartwright replaced Tom Short and Craig Fielding in the No9 and No5 shirts. The Eds stepped up the pace of their game with the defence coming at Southam quickly to give them no time on the ball. A smart interchange between No8 Hatch and Southall took the Eds to 30m of the Southam line, however a knock-on gave a Southam scrum from which the clearance kick saw No11 Duncan Parkinson work well with Elkerton to clear the danger. Hatch was becoming more and more influential and his line-out catch led to a powerful pick-and-go from No3 Dave McAdam. An Eds’ scrum in the Southam half was wheeled by an increasingly desperate opposition pack to enable Eds’ No10 Tim Smith to kick for goal: 3-3 after 5 minutes of the second half.
Eds’ forwards soon returned to the Southam half and a series of three scrum penalties led to the Southam No1 yellow-carded. The next scrum resulted in a penalty try to the Eds as Southam deliberately collapsed the scrum: 10-3. A determined Southam restart won them a penalty near the posts for an immediate response: 10-6.
From an Eds’ attacking line-out Levin again made an impression on the Southam defence, No13 Galloway’s grubber kick was chased and gathered by Roberts 5m from the Southam line. No1 Haberfield took the Eds closer and Southall darted through to touch down. Smith’s kick made it 17-6.
Within 3 minutes Southam were back on the scoreboard when their scrum-half spotted a gap in the Eds’ defence to dart through and score a fine solo try from 30m: 17-13. Their confidence boosted Southam moved the ball confidently from one wing to the other and then launched a forward drive to score under the posts: 17-20 with eight minutes to go.
Were the Eds’ to lose yet another match in the last ten minutes of a match? An offensive Eds’ line-out saw No7 Jack Darlaston make ‘hard yards’ towards the Southam 22. ‘Pick-and-goes’ from the Eds saw them grind nearer and nearer to the try-line. Phase followed phase as the Eds got ever closer to their goal. From five metres out they managed to work an opportunity for Cartwright to smash over for the try again converted by Smith: 24-20.
Southam weren’t finished – high cross-field kicks were launched but dealt with. A Southam line-out 10m from the Eds’ line was called by the referee as the “last play” of the match. Southam played their best backs’ move of the game as their No10 passed and looped around for the return pass. Eds’ made their tackles but an overlap had been created on the Southam right-wing. The pass found the winger but was immediately ruled as forward by the referee. End of match: 24-20 to the relieved Old Eds.
Whilst gaining confidence from a well-deserved win, the relegation threat has not gone away. Eds are still a point behind Southam in the league and must continue on this trajectory.
Old Eds First Team: S Haberfield, G Parker, D McAdam, R Singh, C Fielding, P Levin, J Darlaston, R Hatch, B Darlaston, T Smith, D Parkinson, C Jones, R Galloway, L Roberts