Saturday 1st December, Old Haberdashers traveled to Eton Manor’s home ground for the first of the two fixtures between the sides this season. Welcoming back a few more tanned than usual faces, Old Habs went into the fixture confident looking to carry the moment from their promising win last week against Luton.
The first fifteen minutes Old Habs dominated possession, linking together a large number of phases seeming to be test the well organized Eton Manor defense. OH’s big ball carriers in the forward eight were gaining decent yards in loose, matching Eton Manor’s physicality. Although Old Habs managed to camp inside the Eton Manor half for a much of the first quarter, they were unable to come away with points. A number of attempts at the line with hard running lines from the centers and back rowers were denied and eventually turned over, allowing Eton Manor to clear their lines and take a much needed breather.
A lack of discipline from Old Haberdashers allowed Eton Manor to get a foothold in the game, gaining much needed territory given the slippery conditions. It wasn’t long before the tables had turned and OH were camped on their own 22 defending an onslaught of route one rugby. OH’s defense stood firm, but their discipline did not. Penalty to Eton Manor in front of the posts. Converted. 3-0 Eton Manor.
A few quiet words under the posts and boys came out firing. Straight back into their attacking ways. Scrum just outside the Eton Manor 22m, the OH heavies got the shove on and marched the Manor pack backwards. Penalty Habs. Ian McGhee stepped up and slotted it. 3-3.
The rest of the first half saw Habs retain a large proportion of possession helped drastically by the dominant scrum but could not capitalise on their opportunities.
Half time: Old Haberdashers 3 – Eton Manor 3
Five minutes into the second half, Habs were back on the front foot. Making the Eton Manor defense struggle to get back on onside causing a penalty in field goal range. Mcghee strikes again. 6-3 Old Haberdashers.
OH continued to try and play in the right parts of the field however the slippery conditions meant that there were plenty of errors on both sides of ball. One of these knock-ons saw James Clark tackle the man who picked up the knock on. The ref somehow deemed this to be a cynical offense; Habs were down to 14 men for 10 minutes.
Eton Manor made the extra man count, managing to keep possession and pivot back and forth up the pitch making the Habs defense stay honest. Eventually the Manor back line attempted a chip through, only to ricochet of Charlie Johnson’s leg luckily into the hands of the Manor fullback. OH’s scramble defense recovered well however the Manor 9 scrum half managed to fizz a miss pass to their open winger before regaining it to dive over the line. Conversion missed. 6-8 Eton Manor.
OH has a scrum on the Eton Manor 10m line. Yet again the likes of Sam Fisher and Ian Sanderson were too much for their slightly thinner, slightly more tattooed and less hairy counterparts. Habs get the penalty and hand it to Ian McGhee who knocks it over from 40m out. 9-8 Old Habs take the lead.
Clark returns to the field along with the likes of Andy Harris, who got stuck in immediately with big carries across the park. 10 minutes to go, Habs find themselves with the ball in the Manor half. Harris gets the ball on the blindside and carries hard into the Manor defence, managing to stay on his feet and joined by the rest of the back five, drive 20m towards the Manor line. Quick ball was spun out to the backs only for McGhee to find Charlie Johnson on the end of a 15m pass caught off his bootlaces. OH Try, 14-8 Old Haberdashers.