Sat 02
Effingham & Leatherhead 2XV
The Eagles Have Landed

The Eagles Have Landed

By Tom Moore
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Where Michael Caine and friends may have failed Effingham & Leatherhead made no mistake in their own smash and grab raid.

Before the game had you taken a look at the table seeing it was ninth place E&L (soi-disant ‘Eagles’) without a league win, a walkover apart, against second place King's without a competitive loss you might have thought this would be easy to call. How wrong you would have been though as with King's able to muster only a bare 15 players and with the planets aligned over Mole Valley Eagles produced a performance of great composure to sweep the visitors to Brown's Lane aside and kick-start their season.

With Eagles winning the toss and electing to play with the wind on their backs they would have known that they needed to make hay whilst the sun shone into King's eyes and although Eagles shaded the early possession there was no score registered. However, just as Eagles struggled to turn pressure into points King's were equally profligate when they had the ball three time screwing penalty kicks from hand into the middle of the park and down the throats of their grateful hosts. Sure enough Eagles weren't to be denied forever and it was they who broke the deadlock with a converted score soon after; 7-0.

As the half progressed the Eagles forwards began to struggle as mauls ran backwards and scrums wheeled with regularity and so to counter this the hosts did their best to keep the ball away from contact and in the hands of their youthful back division. This proved effective as the momentum swung again helped in no small part by the referee who began to take umbrage with excessive King's chirping and blew them for one of every penalty offence in the book. With the clock striking 40mins Eagles produced one last play, rumbling down the right before swinging it left to cross close to the posts for an unconverted score; 12-0. In the build-up the referee adjudged a maul to have been deliberately collapsed and consigned a King's player to the bin.

King's had themselves taken a 14pt lead into half-time last week before being pegged back by their visitors and hopes remained of a similar response here. It was not to be though as during their best period of pressure in first twenty minutes of the half they were denied in equal measure by Eagles' defence and their own poor decision making, players allowing themselves to become isolated in contact and foregoing overlaps amongst other rugby sins. With their scrum reinforced Eagles composed themselves and set about their work first with a penalty, 15-0, before exploiting dog-legs and some pattercake tackling to help themselves to a try which their stand-in skipper improved; 22-0. The alarm bells were ringing loud for King's but try as they may, and despite two huge hits from Tony and Josh on a prop and winger respectively, Eagles were too slick and their last converted two scores, the second of which in the last play, were brilliantly taken with jinking runs, offloads and support runners there for all to see in equal measure; 36-0.

Today was further evidence if it were required that you simply cannot account for results in the newly formed Surrey Conference 1. However, an explanation as to why this league is so difficult to call can be revealed in part by reviewing the number competitive games played (only one game round has passed where all five fixtures were honoured; and this week saw a postponement (Twickenham v OPs) and a walkover gifted to Emanuel by Teddington who themselves received one from Eagles one a fortnight ago) and more so than that by unavailability and injury which affect reserve sides just as, if not more, acutely than our respective first XVs, so consequently week on week there is a ready-made recipe for unpredictability.

Take nothing away from Eagles though who were worthy winners on the day and gracious hosts off the field, we're only sorry we weren't able to stay longer. We hope that when you visit Motspur Park in February that we're able to give you more of a contest. Next week Old Whitgiftian, victors over LIA, await as King's look to bounce back.

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Match details

Match date

Sat 02, Nov 2013