Old Brentwoods v.s. May & Baker - Match report
MOTM - Richard Clarke
After the disappointment of last week’s home defeat to Ilford, Old Brentwoods produced an excellent team performance to power past May & Baker 39-24, and in doing so returned to winning ways and closed the gap on the top 2.
Old Brentwoods started the game with high energy and looked to run the ball from their 22. A knock on from May & Baker gave Old Brentwoods a scrum just inside their own half. Scrum half Darragh Harnett sniped from the back of the scrum and broke the line with a show-and-go, then gave the scoring pass to fullback Joe Davies who showed good wheels to run in from 40m. Davies missed the conversion, but it was a perfect start for the home side as they went 5-0 inside the opening 5 minutes.
The early dominance was short lived as May & Baker had a clear intention to pin Old Brentwoods in their 22 and proceeded with their kick-chase tactic. Poor discipline from the home side meant they were under pressure from the physical visitors in their 22. Old Brentwoods successfully defended 2 close maul drives, however pressure was not relieved so easily and May & Baker looked to run the ball rather than kick. A pre-planned strike move sent their fullback charging towards the Old Brentwoods line, only to be tackled a metre short. A short ball from the 9 send a forward over the line, however the conversion was missed and the scores were tied 5-5.
A few inures to the home side stalled the game somewhat, however the deadlock was broken by winger Rhys Newton. Following a series of carries from the forwards, the backline linked up nicely to send newton over in the right corner. Again the conversion was missed, but Old Brentwoods hadn’t finished with the scoring. An attack from their own 22 looked dangerous, and centre Jamie Pugh injected some pace into the attack and straighten well to create space for his centre partner Isaac Kiburige. Kiburige showed great pace and footwork to beat several defender and run in the score from halfway, this time the conversion was successful and the home side led 17-5 at the break.
Coach Max Le Count-Ward called for more intensity from his side at half time, and that’s exactly what he got. Good pressure straight from the restart produced a scrum just outside the May & Baker 22, from which Old Brentwoods launched their next attack. Once they got in behind their defence, flanker Charlie Raymond Jnr gave an inside pass to hooker Stu Smyth who dived over from close range. The conversion was successful and Old Brentwoods led 24-5 with a bonus point in the bag.
From the restart, Old Brentwoods showed their attacking intent with captain James Lennox charging forward to start the latest attack. Smyth was on hand for support, and the two forwards had good interplay up the left wing to get into the May & Baker 22. While that attack didn’t result in a try, it did create pressure inside the opposition 22. Following a penalty close to the May & Baker line, No.8 Sam Wilkinson showed good awareness to take a quick-tap and attack space on the right. His pass found Smyth who gave the scoring pass to Newton who crossed for his second of the afternoon.
The next to score was prop David Embling after numerous penalties conceded by the visiting team. Old Brentwoods created quick ball following a series of strong carries from the forwards. The ball then found Embling in space on the wing who dived over for Old Brentwoods’ 6th try of the game.
In the final quarter May & Baker showed some resilience and managed to score a couple of tries themselves. Their second try came from a 5m lineout on the Old Brentwoods line. The hooker overthrew the ball which was gathered by a flanker at the tail, who then flopped over to score. At 34-12 it was unlikely that May & Baker would come back to win the game, but they could at least score 4 tries and get a bonus point. Their search for tries was then made more achievable when Old Brentwoods fly half Tom Bassett was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. With less than 10 minutes to go, May & Baker made the most of the numerical advantage. A series of forward runners off 9 dented the Old Brentwoods defence close to their line and the visitors claimed their 3rd try.
While Old Brentwoods managed to score a 7th try – a well-executed driving maul which resulted in Wilkinson dotting down – it was May & Baker who had the final say. They capitalised on an Old Brentwoods error to claim possession inside their 22, then proceeded to use their forward to pick-and-go around the ruck. The pressure was too much for the Old Brentwoods defence and May & Baker burrowed over from close range to claim their bonus point try.
It was an encouraging performance from Old Brentwoods who scored some great tries and looked to play positive attacking rugby. This win gives the team momentum ahead of their 2nd vs 3rd clash with King’s Cross Steelers on the 11th. Man of the Match was tighthead prop Richard Clarke who was an effective carrier with ball in hand, was dominant in the scrum and won turnovers in defence.