Welcome victory against Amersham in last home game of the season
By Martin Pearl
Manor welcomed Amersham & Chiltern for their last home game of the season, with selection again disrupted by unavailability it gave Manor the opportunity to play some second team players who’s performances in the lower side warranted their inclusion in the first team squad including giving a first team debut to hooker Callum Craig.
Amersham kicked off the game and although the opening exchanges were fairly even it was Manor who were creating the better attacking opportunities. The first score of the day came after a period of pressure by Manor inside Amersham’s 22 where the hosts won an attacking scrum. Manor drove their opponents back winning another penalty 8 meters out. Here they opted for another scrum and again drove the Amersham pack backwards and in an attempt to stop the drive Amersham illegally wheeled the scrum stopping Manor from crossing the line, but the ref had made up his mind and awarded Manor a penalty try and with six minutes played Manor had opened the scoring 7 – 0.
The game continued with neither side having the upper hand until after a sustained period of pressure from Amersham inside Manors 22 the visitors finally got a chance of some points when Manor were penalised for coming in at the side of a ruck. The resulting penalty was struck between the posts to register Amersham’s first points of the day 7 – 3 after 19 minutes.
The next score of the game came from Manor but was started from a period of Amersham pressure inside Manors 22. The visitors won a lineout and moved the ball along their backline but under pressure from Manors defence the ball was dropped. Nick Horton reacted the quickest and fly hacked the ball forward and the chase was on. Horton continued the race and again kicked the ball forwards this time into Amersham’s 22. Jamie Millais now took up the chase and managed to dive on the ball before the covering defence could gather it up, he then popped the ball up to the supporting debutant Craig and he dived over the line for another Manor score. Callum Dutch was successful with the conversion from out wide and after 26 minutes Manor had increased their lead to 14 – 3.
Amersham were having their fair share of possession but couldn’t break through Manors resolute defence but the home side were giving away too many penalties which, after failing to break through Manors defence, Amersham took a shot at goal from one which was successful and with the half coming to a close they had reduced the deficit to 14 – 6.
Still there was time left for Manor to attack from the restart, Harry Bone won the restart allowing Garth Tucker to drive the ball on then Manors centre partnership of Aaron Lowe and Millais both made ground but a knock on halted the attack. From the subsequent scrum Manor drove their opposition back winning a penalty which Horton kicked into Amersham’s 22. With the throw in secured the ball went out along the line where Robb Falls and Millais both made ground but as the ball was recycled a knock on halted a promising attack.
Manor soon regained possession when Tom O’Connor won a lineout on Manors 10 meter line, the ball was shipped along the line where Lowe made a clean break through the centre making 25 meters before linking up with his winger Bone out wide. From 20 meters out he darted along the touchline, evading the clutches of the covering defenders and went over for Manors third try. Again Dutch was successful with the difficult conversion and with the ref blowing for halftime Manor held a 21 – 6 lead.
Manor kicked off the second half and began the stronger of the two sides and were soon attacking close to the visitors 22. From a scrum Tucker broke off the back and powered into the 22 where the ball was quickly recycled along the backline but a knock on halted the attack. The ref had been playing a penalty advantage at the scrum so Dutch took a successful shot at goal increasing Manors lead to 24 – 6 after 5 minutes of the second half.
From the restart Falls gathered the ball and broke through numerous tackles before being brought down on the halfway line, here Jack Sullivan took up the charge again breaking through tackles and taking play into Amersham’s 22 but as the ball was passed out a knock on stopped the attack.
Amersham now fought back and pinned Manor back in their 22 and although Manor defended well they were giving away too many penalties which resulted in a team yellow card for Tucker. With Manor down to 14, Amersham kept up their attack retaining possession well and eventually making their extra man count going over for their first try of the game. The conversion was successful and Amersham had began their fight back reducing the deficit to 24 – 13.
Manor had some good periods of attacking play and although they had lost Falls to injury they continued to punch holes through Amersham’s defence with substitutes Bobby Grace and Frank Webber along with Sullivan all carrying the ball well, but too often promising attacks were brought to a premature halt by dropped passes or conceding silly penalties.
Amersham were still in the game and with the half was coming to a close they launched a free flowing attack which saw their winger in space as he sped along the touchline, Horton gave chase and after 30 meters managed to snare the opposition winger but the ball went into touch off a Manor player. Amersham took a quick lineout and again patiently attacked Manors line eventually going over for another, unconverted try 24 -18.
With enough time to re-start the match Manor kicked deep and forced Amersham to kick for touch. With the lineout taken Sullivan secured the ball allowing it to be kicked into touch to bring the contest to an end.
Manor’s second half performance did not match that of their first half efforts but were please to record a victory against opposition who were sitting above them in the table. The season closes next week with a difficult away fixture against Southend.