Team – Lawrence, Stefan, Jack, Nick, Michael, Johnny, Conal, Mark, Sam S, Joel, Pete, Ian, Gabriel & Shane
Scorers: Michael (1T) Shane (1C,1P)
It's been a while since I've wrote one of these reports, but after this past weekends efforts away at Epping and Upper Clapton I thought it was time to pick up the pen again.
After going through a busy January schedule we found ourselves shy of a full XV, either due to weekends away or nursing injuries. But with the fourteen who answered the call, we trekked to Epping in hope of avenging the early season loss at home. In unusual circumstances we arrived in good time at their ground and even got out early enough to go through a whole team warm up.
Seeing we had arrived down a man the referee attempted to seek parity for the start of the game . Only having 14 for the start of the game with their 15th arriving late and a novice on the bench Epping were inclined to keep their advantage and Southgate knew they were in for a long afternoon.
Things didn't get off to a great start as five minutes in (whilst in the midst of making a blinding tackle) went down with what was initially thought of was a sprained ankle which later an x-ray proved was broken. Now being down at a numerical disadvantage was gonna be even tougher, but taking heart from the tackle he put in we soldiered our way up the field with everyone getting involved in carrying our way up the park.
We drew first blood as after repeated infringements at the breakdown (mainly offside) Shane opted to kick the points. Unfortunately that period of play was our last offensive move for the following 20 minutes as our own indiscipline crept in as we were pinged for talking to the referee and handed Epping the possession. They used this to their advantage and using their two man overlap ran in three unanswered Try's giving them a 14 point lead. After sorting out our discipline we started on a effort of play that we'd carry through the rest of the game. Good carrying from Michael & Jack in the forwards got us over the gain line and was repeated by Sam, Pete & Gabriel in the backs as phase after phase we hammered against the Epping defence, showing Epping we were not a team to give up so easily.
This produced a frantic final five minutes of overtime, with possession trading hands several times as both sides looked to hammer home a point before half time, only for it to end as the ball made it's way into touch.
Despite being down at the half both in score and personnel wise we knew we'd hit some kind of form just before we got to the half. We resumed the game with the same intensity and quickly found ourselves bearing down upon the Epping Try line, where we laid siege for the majority of the rest of the game. It was eventually able to tell as Joel and Michael linked up to see Mike crash over and bring the score back within 7. We played phase after phase of crash rugby against a swarming and resilient Epping defence being denied by their superior numbers, and in Gabriel's case by a spritely young touch judge by the name of S.Oliver that our efforts were halted.
Whenever Epping tried to clear via the boot an ever present Shane at fullback loomed to run it back with intent, with any clearance to touch to have Conal waiting to regain possession ably assisted by Lawrence. Unfortunately even though we played with great dominance Epping made use of their advantage and used the men overlap to attack down the width of the pitch managing to score 3 try's on the counter attack. In the midst of these scores Sam went down, and even despite the loss of another player we pushed them to their limits only to have our final attack blown up for once again talking to the referee.
Whilst not an ideal result for the effort put in. If we play like we did with 14, 13, 12 men we'll be fantastic when we run out with a full XV.