Saturday 22nd February saw Old Haberdashers' 1st XV travel to Eton Manor for another thrilling match up. The two sides have engaged in some huge games in the past and this one was not to disappoint.
Excited to be playing on the 4G turf, allowing for a slightly more expansive game, the Old Haberdashers' backline were quick to show their threat, by testing the Eton manor drift defence early on. Habs finally broke through when Josh ‘Downtown’ Downie fielded a charged down 22 drop out, only to run through 4 players on his way to the try line. Unusually soft defense from Manor and Habs tails were up, sensing a chance for more. McGhee slotted the conversion. 7-0 OH.
Eton Manor however fought their way back into the game with some hard ball carrying from their tight five. A few loose tackles around the ruck allowed Manor to get on the score sheet with a try near the posts from their lively 7. Conversion to follow. 7-7 and a good contest brewing.
With pin point kicking from Habs 10, Thomas ‘TAJ’ Jackson, the OH heavies soon found themselves five meters from the Eton Manor line. Arrows from Jay ‘Fat Jay’ Lad at the lineout, quick maul and Monkey ‘Monk’ Sanderson goes over to grab himself a meat pie. 14-7 OH. Conversion good again from 'The Length'.
The rest of the first half saw two more scores from OH. One from an exquisite bit of back play finished well by Harry ‘Briff’ Briffitt. 'Sea-biscuit' carrying through a number of tackles and as usual taking the wide route over a couple of furlongs. The last try of the first half for Habs was a shove it up the jumper type by OH’s very own TV personality Harvey ‘Official’ Taylor. A well deserved score from Harvey who was awesome all afternoon. OH go into half time 26-12 up.
After a fairly evenly contested first half, the second half saw OH pull away from Manor, maintaining the majority of possession, executing excellent first phase ball and breaking through the Manor defence several times to finish strong. After more great work at the lineout, Josh ‘Downtown’ Downie found himself five meters out at the back of the ruck, only to pick and drive over Manor's tired no. 4 to finish for the first try of the second half. Another infringement by the pesky no. 4 after JD had scored gave Habs a penalty straight from the try on the halfway line. TAJ hammered the pen kick close to the 5m line and the relentless Habs forwards were at it again!
Not long afterwards, OH were hammering the Manor defence when a strong scrum platform gave OH’s centres the ability to link together for Briff’s second try of the afternoon. The final tries for OH came from quick turnover breakaways, both ending with Conor ‘Sometimes 9’ Michaels going over in the corner. The first, after some excellent skills from the Habs forwards in the middle with a couple of offloads and pinpoint passing gave Con the chance to dot down in the corner. The final try, in the last play, was scored out wide again by wing Michaels, much to the consternation of the travelling crowd who were 'desperate for 50', alas the conversion was into the wind and from the touchline so Habs settled for 48.
OH win 48-12, grabbing a bonus point victory and maintaining 2nd place in the league.