With Old Habs and Eton Manor each jostling for points in the table’s top third, Saturday’s game was a crucial fixture for both sides. Habs, having sealed victories in each of last season’s contests, had little doubt the visitors were now looking to serve up some of their own just desserts.
Neither side gave much away in the opening stages, but a focused warm-up (despite the untimely disappearance of certain members of the Habs faithful at the hands of former utility back Simon Miller) looked to be paying dividends for the hosts who settled into a string of dominant set piece plays. The early pressure was rewarded with a scrum on the fringes of Manor’s 22. No cry of “Sniff it you Haberdashers!” needed to set Monkey, Jay Lad et al trundling. The referee duly decided he’d seen enough (of what I can’t can be sure) and the penalty try was awarded.
Throwing caution to both wind and rain now, Habs continued to carry ambitiously; backs Surman, Johnson and Downie causing problems both in the centre-field and wide channels. Reliable handling, coupled with shrewd kicking from Whittle (for once) and McGhee, maintained commanding field position for OH, and successive penalties for offences by Manor at the breakdown were punished by McGhee, who added 6 points to Habs’ tally. 13-0 was the score at the break.
Play opened up in the second half as Manor looked to a get a foothold. Despite some spirited early offences, the visitors couldn’t capitalise. Eton Manor then suffered a self-induced blow for a dangerous tackle, as they lost a man to the sin-bin. It wasn’t long before another break from Downie set up space out wide for Charlie Johnson to touch down superbly in the corner, having scooped a pass from his ankles to beat his opposite man.
The last laugh was The Length’s who slotted a final penalty in front of the sticks, completing a resounding victory for OH.
Habs, with no appetite for humble pie (only Pauline’s finest fare) tucked in to a night of taps and tenpins. Colchester awaits…