Manor welcomed Old Haberdashers to the New Wilderness this week knowing that they were in for a tough time against a team that sat one place above them in the league. With ten players unavailable for selection Manor gave a league first team debut to fly half George Bradley. With two well matched sides the result was likely to be decided in favour of the team that made the fewest mistakes, unfortunate it was Manor whose game was littered with basic errors meaning they didn’t capitalise on the opportunities they did create.
Old Habs kicked off the game with possession initially secured by Paddy Sheehy but the subsequent clearance kick went straight into touch giving the visitors an attacking lineout. With the ball secured Old Habs tested Manors defence, but they were met by a solid blue wall and eventually after a crunching tackle by Tala Petelo the ball was turned over allowing Daniel Peasnell to drive the ball upfield. Manor continued to take the attack to their opponents until a high tackle on Bradley brought a penalty 30 metes out. Bradley took the chance giving Manor a 3-0 lead after 4 minutes.
Manor were controlling the early part of the match and after a set scrum Ollie Waugh made good ground off the back before Nick Horton sent a well placed kick close to Old Habs line and despite a good chase the ball was cleared to the halfway line, but here the first of many handling errors by Manor gave the advantage to Old Habs which was further compounded when the scrum resulted in a penalty against Manor.
Old Habs now had the better of possession and territory but were still being met by solid tackling with Waugh and Robb Falls leading the way, knocking the ball carrier back whenever they could. With ball in hand Old Habs looked dangerous and one sweeping move saw the ball moved along their line where their winger made good ground before Manors defence knocked him into touch just outside Manors 22. With 20 minutes gone both sides were striving for a score but being met by solid defences.
With the game moving from one half to the other Manor were still making too many basic errors and falling foul of the refs whistle and eventually gave away a kickable penalty. The opportunity was taken and after 25 minutes the scores were level at 3 – 3.
With the restart taken Old Habs again attacked inside Manors 22 but some ferocious tackling and work at the breakdown won Manor a penalty which was kicked to halfway for a lineout. The ball was won by Jack Sullivan allowing Manor to set up a driving maul which took play to within 15 meters of Old Habs line. When the drive was finally stopped Manor moved the ball out along their backline but another handling error turned possession over to Old Habs and a good attacking opportunity had been lost.
After Old Habs had worked the ball into Manors half they worked an overlap but as the ball carrier set off along the touchline a crunching tackle by Waugh stopped the ball carrier in his tracks winning a penalty for Manor in the process.
It was Manors turn to now attack Old Habs and after good work by centres Oscar Townend and Aaron Lowe the ball went into touch for a defending lineout 8 meters from Old Habs try line. With the initial throw not straight Manor opted for a lineout of their own, but they couldn’t get the ball in straight and another good attacking opportunity had been lost and without any further significant attacking play by either side the half came to a close with the scores level at 3 - 3.
With Manor kicking off the second half Old Habs started the better of the two sides and capitalised on Manors errors and penalties to work their way into a scoring position and when awarded yet another penalty, they took the kick at goal and took the lead 3 – 6 after 5 minutes of the second half.
Manor were still competing well at the breakdown, turning over ball and winning penalties, one such penalty they kicked for an attacking lineout 10 meters out from Old Habs line. But their handling curse struck again when the ball was knocked on in the lineout.
Manor were enjoying a period of pressure inside Old Habs 22 where good runs by props Calvin Bradley and Michael Byrne kept the pressure on their opponents. After a strong run by Townend, Luigi Martelletti and Waugh combined before creating space for Horton out wide to outpace the defence and go in at the corner for Manors first try. The touchline conversion went just under the crossbar but Manor had retaken the lead 8 – 6 after 12 minutes.
It wasn’t long before Old Habs retook the lead and it came as a result of another Manor handling error which resulted in giving away a penalty 35 meters out from Manors line. The Old Habs kicker struck the ball well claiming the thee points that saw the visitors retake the lead 8 – 9 after 17 minutes.
Manor were still winning the battle of the breakdown winning penalties when the opposition were penalised for holding on to the ball when tackled. These penalties allowed Manor to take play to within 5 meters of Old Habs line. Here at a lineout Manors inability to hold onto the ball saw another attacking opportunity go to waste.
Manor still continued to have the better of possession and territory but on a couple of occasions knock-ons gave possession back to the visitors. Then after a period of sustained pressure Old Habs launched a fast paced counter attack from inside their 22 where their centre broke a couple of tackles before his supporting players took play within 10 meters of Manors line and despite some solid defence Old Habs worked an overlap out wide to score what turned out to be the decisive try. The conversion was missed but Old Habs had increased their lead to 8 – 14 with only a few minutes left to play.
Manor looked to find a winning score with good breaks by Lowe and substitute Carl Buisson but yet again on a couple of occasions Manor worked hard to create scoring opportunities only to be denied by handling errors and this ultimately cost Manor the game as the match drew to a conclusion with Manor unable to get the score they needed.
The game was a competitive contest between two well match sides with Old Habs taking their scoring opportunities well but Manor can not help but rue the numerous handling errors that possibly cost them victory.