Try bonus point earn't in defeat to Old Habs.
By Martin Pearl
Manor travelled to Old Haberdashers this week hoping to build upon their good showing against table topping Rochford last time out, but yet again Manor named a much changed squad showing seven changes and when faced with a team that was riding high in the league, continuity of the team is an important factor.
Manor kicked off the game and had all the early pressure using the slope and the breeze to their advantage. Good kicking from Michael Din and Cameron Dutch made sure that Old Habs were pinned inside their own half for the opening 5 minutes and Manor nearly scored the first points of the game when Old Habs won a defending lineout 7 meters from their line but as they attempted a box kick Jack Sullivan burst through and charged the kick down but was just beaten by the bounce of the ball as it went over the dead ball line before he could reach it.
Old Habs now had a period of possession and showed why they occupied fourth spot in the league with some strong running from their forwards complemented by their big powerful backline. One area that Manor did enjoy some superiority was at the lineout, stealing the opposition throw on a number of occasions. From one such lineout on Manors 10 meter line, Daniel Peasnall stole the throw in allowing Manor to ship the ball along their line where Rhys Davis-Horne made good ground taking pay close to Old Habs 22, here with the ball being recycled Nick Horton sent a cross-field kick to the opposite side of the pitch where Garth Tucker was unmarked and with a clear run to the line, but the kick was just too long and went into touch before Tucker could reach it.
Manor continued to attack Old Habs line and despite some strong forward runs they couldn’t break through Old Habs well organised defensive line until the ball was shipped out to Dutch who stepped inside his man and headed towards the line where he was double tackled a few meters short, but he had the skill to pass the ball out of the back of his hand to the supporting Din and he had the power to get over the line despite another attempted double tackle on him. Dutch was successful with the conversion and after 15 minutes Manor led 0 – 7.
Old Habs now came into the game and dominated play for the next period and put Manors line under pressure with more powerful running from their forwards causing Manor to give away a number of penalties. Finally the pressure told and from a scrum close to Manors line Old Habs No 8 picked up from the base and drove powerfully over the line for the hosts opening score and although the conversion was missed they had registered their first points after 24 minutes closing the gap to 5 – 7.
Although Manor went back on the attack it was Old Habs who scored next, again Manor gave away a penalty inside the hosts half, here a quick tap saw a fast pace attack take play into Manors 22 and after camping close to Manors line Old Habs worked space out wide to score in the corner. The conversion was missed and after 35 minutes Old Habs had taken the lead 10 – 7.
Manor finished the half on the front foot with Billy Cosma, Robb Falls and Sullivan all punching holes through Old Habs defences but Manor couldn’t find the killer blow to score another try before halftime as Old Habs well drilled defence held out to lead at half time.
The hosts kicked off the second half and immediately gave the initiative to Manor when the kick went straight into touch. From the resulting scrum the ball went to Carly Buisson who drove through attempted tackles taking play into Old Habs half where a knock on gave Manor another scrum. Here Tucker broke off the back of the scrum before linking up with Billy Cosmo and Falls who took play upfield, they then moved the ball out to Din who again made good ground before Falls again took on the attack being stopped just short of the line, the ball was again recycled and this time Dutch side stepped his man and darted over the line for Manors second try. Although the difficult conversion was missed Manor had retaken the lead 10 – 12 after 5 minutes of the second half.
Old Habs immediately put Manor under pressure and after a sustained period of pressure causing Manor to give away a number of penalties, George Cosma was yellow carded for repeated team infringements. Old Habs soon took advantage of their extra man and after good interplay from their powerful centres they found a gap in Manors line and went over under the posts for a seven point score to retake the lead 17 – 12 after 10 minutes, it would be a lead that they would not now loose again.
It wasn’t long before Old Habs took further advantage of their numerical advantage and added to their tally and after good interplay between forwards and backs they scored again under the posts for another seven point score increasing their lead to 24 – 12.
Manor now had a sustained period of possession and pressure with some good forward run, but Old Habs defence remained solid and Manor couldn’t break through. It was from Old Habs frailty at the lineout that led to Manors next score. Tucker stole an Old Habs throw in and drove upfield before linking up with Sullivan, he drove over a couple of would be tacklers before passing to Freddie Heaton, he set off towards the line with only the fullback to beat, but an excellent tackle stopped Heaton just short of the line. The ball was quickly recycled and moved along the line where Dutch again stepped his way towards the line but just when he looked as though he had been held up just short Manors forwards drove him over the line for another Manor try. The conversion hit the posts so the extra points weren’t not added but the deficit had been reduced to 24 – 17 with 10 minutes left to play.
Manors hope of an unlikely comeback were dashed when after a period of play centred around the middle of the park Old Habs set off on another free flowing attack and after showing good handling passing out of the tackle to their supporting players they went over for another seven point score to increase their lead to 31 – 17.
Manor didn’t give up and went back on the attack and after some good runs by Brad Burrell, Din and Falls, Jamie Millais got the ball a few meters out and despite the attention of a number of defenders managed to get the ball over the line for Manors try bonus point score. Dutch added the conversion and with the score standing at 31 – 24 Manor were only one score from drawing level and held a losing bonus point.
Old Habs had other ideas and with the game coming to a close they ran in two quick well worked scores which made the final score 45 – 24 to the hosts and whilst they fully deserved their win the margin of victory was perhaps a little harsh on Manor.