FRIENDLY: SEPTEMBER 7
NOW FOR THE HARD PART AS ACID TEST AWAITS
BIGGLESWADE 14 ENFIELD IGNATIANS 58
Enfield Ignatians ended a flawless pre-season campaign on a triumphant note by lording their away encounter against Biggleswade 58-14 in Bedfordshire on Saturday (Sept 7). Having also seen off Braintree and Stockwood Park in the two other friendlies with plenty to spare, the blue and golds have yet to be seriously tested. However, they are cultivating a winning habit, and it was clear that the 18-man squad were fighting for places for the league opener against Old Streetonians. So plenty to play for.
In a predominantly one-sided contest, the blue and golds ran in ten tries against outmatched hosts, but despite the magnitude of the scoreline, coach Shane Manning is demanding more of his team and he cut only a partially satisfied figure. He said: “We did some good things [against Biggleswade] but there are also a shed load of things we need to work in our next two training sessions. Although, overall we can’t be happy with that.”
The bad and ugly of it all was evident in the opening exchanges when a certain tunnel vision set-in. At times the ball carrier simply failed to locate the support, and even some of the more experienced heads let slip by trawling into the Boris Johnson manual of rugby by affording themselves no wriggle room and being unceremoniously ‘carted’ into touch.
Also flirting with the nearly ‘men’ theory after Liam Dunne was twice held up over the line, the visitors did at least have two Lucas Yoxall tries to show for their efforts in the opening quarter. Looking far more at home on the wing than at centre the previous week, the up-and-coming 20-year-old tucked away a beautifully floated pass from scrum-half, Jack O’Toole, with the latter similarly enjoying a fine game at scrum-half.
Some great build-up work from a very mobile Ben Mills, a hive of activity, and the atoning Dunne also carved an overlap from which Yoxall claimed his brace.
After recovering from the nightmare start to the second quarter when poor defence saw them concede a soft try to the Biggleswade centre, they responded by rifling off three tries in response. Running some great lines, and with the Biggy fringe defence proving virtually non-existent, the field started to open up for Ignatians and Charlie Hoy was rewarded for the quality of his support play by going over twice.
Prop Dom Nott even got in the act as his arcing run blew the safe door wide open against his former club. Although the catalyst for the score was some fine interplay involving two teammates, including the impressive Euan Renny.
Despite not immediately coming to terms with the elements in the third and fourth quarters, and further chances went begging, the visitors continued to beaver away and eventually the tries came.
Making a welcome return at centre, Cypriot international Sam Emery, enjoying a second spell at the club after a stint at Hertford, became an increasingly influential presence. The chief beneficiary of a ‘Yoxall’ break, he went over himself and had a big hand in other scores as he ‘fixed’ the defence playing-in Carl Asare Anderson, as well as releasing the work-hungry, Hadee Fayaz, for his brace after the latter tracked over from the opposite wing.
Either side of a second try for the hosts, Ignatians cashed-in on some wayward Biggleswade kicking. Jamie Newport sparked the counterattack and the ball continued to whiz down the left flank where winger Ryan Browne finished off.
Last but not least, Fayaz finished off down the right after Ignatians had again recycled well and created the overlap. Giving the ‘Johnsonian’ theory short shrift, he allowed himself just enough space to evade two defenders before squeezing in at the corner.
Jake Bates, rested after showing some deft touches, and Jack O’Toole (three) supplied the visitors’ four conversions.
So to sum up, Shane Manning is clearly going to have something of a selection headache before shortlisting his final 18 for the Streets’ game after a number of fine performances, including MOM Jonathan Hamilton, who has played rugby in Dubai. However, one fancies it’s just the sort of a problem he would rather have…
First Team Squad: Forwards: Dom Nott, Ben Mills, Alberto Di Dio, Liam Dunne, Luke Stack, Euan Renny, Charlie Hoy, Dave Gear, Jamie Newport and Jonathan Hamilton.
Backs: Jake Baker (cpt), Jack O’Toole, Lucas Yoxall, Hadee Fayaz, Michael Hall, Sam Emery, Carl Asare-Anderson and Ryan Browne. (18).