After good wins in the competition against Amersham and OA's, and a great performance at London Irish before Christmas we welcomed Southend to Eltham College for this much anticipated match.
We know from our previous meetings that Southend were a quality team and we'd need to be firing on all cyclinders to be competitive. We talked to the boys in the warm up about tackling low against a bigger pack and being aggressive at the breakdown.
Playing with a strong tail wind, Southend came storming into us from the first play and dominated the early exchanges. Their forwards throughout were excellent, with superb continuity, support play and offloading evident. Two well taken tries in the first 5 mins really put us under the pump. An intercept try from Oscar running in from our own 22 provided a brief respite, and whilst we began to establish some possession and look sharp, we were unable to retain the ball long enough to build on this, as Southend were excellent in the tackle and the breakdown. A further two tries saw us going into the break 26-7 down and with a mountain to climb.
Into the second half and with the wind at our back we started strongly enough, scoring a well taken try through George, to narrow the score to 26-14. However, sloppy defence from the kickoff and poor tackling allowed Southend to score directly from the restart. Two further tries saw Southend run out worthy 43-14 winners. Their physicality and skill level was just better than ours on the day, and this now provides the benchmark for the level we need to get to.
Congratuations to Southend and best of luck in the Final. Look forward to catching up in September.