Old Tiffinians 18 v 25 Teddington
Close derby ends in defeat
After a close defeat in the first game of the new season, Old Tiffinians returned to their fortress Grists hoping to bounce back with a big W against local rivals Teddington. Injuries to key players such as playmaker Ali Watkins meant Tiffs went into the game with a new-look lineup, including debutants Kiran Richards and Ollie Beels in the centres.
The game started off as a tight affair with neither side managing to create any clear cut chances. Big carries from captain Jaewon Jang off the back of the scrum and good work from Tiff forwards at the breakdown gave Tiffs two early chances with penalties from distance. Will Sharp, faced with the tough task of taking over kicking duties from Ali Watkins, was unable to convert either opportunity.
As the first half continued, Tiffs began to apply more pressure to the Teddington defence with some clever breaks from the quick feet of George Taylor at 10 and hard crash lines from Richards, showing the advantages of playing a back row forward in the centres. Eventually this pressure told, with Sharp kicking a much easier penalty to open the scoring (3-0).
Despite more chances from attacking scrums and lineouts in the corner, Old Tiffs were unable to convert the pressure into tries and although the home side were on top, the score remained at 3 -0.
With only a few minutes of the half remaining, the visitors were awarded a controversial penalty just inside Tiffs half. Sensing an opportunity to break, the Teddington 7 took a quick tap and ran straight into the aggravated Will Staples. Seeing that the penalty had not been taken from the correct spot and believing the referee was about to call the 7 back, Stapes stood his ground and bounced the nippy back rower to the ground. Unfortunately the referee took a different view and showed Staples a yellow card. The following penalty was kicked over the posts to level the scoring at 3-3.
In the final play of the half, Tiffs earned another penalty in front of the posts and added three more points to mean that despite having one less man on the pitch, the hosts led 6-3 at the interval.
Still with a one man advantage, Teddington started the second half as the more threatening team and began to test the Tiffs’ line. Defensive confusion off a set piece allowed the Teddington back line to go over in the corner and put over the following conversion, putting the away side in front for the first time in the match (6-10).
After their first try, Teddington continued to probe in the Old Tiffs half and some sloppy Tiffs defence allowed their forwards to go over the line again from close in, making the score 6-17.
Two tries down and in danger of letting the match slip away, Tiffs needed a response. Good organisation from Andy Staples – the most experienced back on the day – and gutsy carrying from new man John Willison allowed Tiffs to find their way back into the game. Following a long period of possession in the Teddington 22, the chance finally arose out wide and the ball reached Sweeney in the corner with no men to beat. With the home fans already cheering, the flying Welshman somehow managed to drop the ball on his way down and butcher a certain try.
Sweeney’s embarrassment was saved only by a penalty advantage, which Tiffs kicked into the corner. From a trademark lineout maul, the Tiffs forward drove for the line and Laurie Unwin dived over, giving the experienced front row his first try for the club. After a delay in finding the kicking T, the conversion was slotted with only seconds to spare; Tiffs had narrowed the gap to 13-17 and the comeback was on.
As gaps started to appear in the Teddington line, Taylor began to control the game from fly half and the away side struggled to get the ball out of their own half. Tiffs won another penalty in a dangerous positions and again opted for the corner. With regular lineout thrower Tommy England off the pitch, captain fantastic Jae Jang stepped up and executed a clever throw to the front man. Jang received the ball back and darted down the touch line, muscling his way over to put Tiffs back in the lead (18-17).
Determined not to lose their second game of the season, Teddington came back at Tiffs and managed to creep ahead after an opportune group goal from under the posts. This was followed up by another good passage of back play, resulting in a try in the corner and a 7 point lead for the visitors (18 - 25).
Showing the same fighting spirit that was seen last week, Tiffs regained possession from the following restart and were awarded one final penalty. The ball was put into the corner and the team had one last chance to salvage a draw. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, as a misunderstanding allowed Teddington to win the lineout and kick the ball into touch, with the final score standing at 18 - 25.
Although the game ended with a second defeat of the season, Tiffs can be encouraged by the performance, especially considering the amount of new faces in the lineup, and will travel to Battersea next week confident in securing a first win of the season.
Final Score: Old Tiffinians 18 v 25 Teddington
DoD: Will Staples – Awarded for the yellow card – unlucky considering Sweeney’s howler on the try line.
MoM: Will Sharp – marshalled the defence well from full back and made a few breaks in attack.
Tries: Unwin, Jang
Pens: Sharp (2)
Match Report by Will Sharp