“Evergreens take the sting out of the tail of Wasps to march on to the final”
Middlesex Vets League Play-off Semifinal
A crisp early spring Friday evening under the lights at Vallis Way provided the Evergreens with a stern test of resolve, but one which they eventually passed. A rejigged play-off knock out competition meant we were pitted against our Twyford Avenue rivals Wasps, whom we had beaten earlier in the season in a really competitive game.
Early exchanges were even but Evergreens got the ever important initial breakthrough in the 9th minute after Lee Sterling went over from the side of a ruck just to the right of the posts, allowing Damien Connolly an easy conversion. Unfortunately our bench resources were stretched early on when Jacko, one of a handful of Evergreens who have been ever present this season, limped off with an ankle strain.
Try number two followed quite quickly as Pup picked up after a series of dog drives and fed a surprised, but well rested, James Rowlands, whose hastily arranged Uber bill was well repaid with his first score this season. Indeed this pre-match lackadaisical approach to playing was also repaid with the DotD award later in the bar.
Evergreens were dominant in the set piece throughout the match as exemplified by the second Lee try, from a strong scrum under the posts with Ash feeding Pup from the rucked breakdown to set him up. Pup then put his own name on the brace list with a long solo run to touch down in the far right hand corner.
Losing Jacko was punished as Wasps got back into the game just before half time with two quick tries. A mix up between the replacement fullback and wing (don’t worry not you Terry) from a deep kick allowed the first score and then ball lost in the loose was run in after some weak tackling attempts; a not so comfortable 24-12 lead at halftime.
The first score in the second half was going to be all important in this game, with Wasps halftime talk no doubt focusing on just how well they were rucking by committing more to the breakdown than Evergreens. However, Lee ran in his hatrick try taking a tight line round a ruck and the game was suddenly all Ealing’s again as the Wasps mini-revival was swotted out.
A great feature of this season has been the return to rugby of a number of old Ealing friends, none more pleased to play and muck in at second row than Corné du Rand, who fed Olly “thanks for putting a shift in on the wing” Mayo for a score in the right corner to a chorus of “You have still got it!” from the massed crowd of relatives in the stand! Wasps briefly rallied to get a third but a penalty that Ash collected and positively drifted (Jake said trundled in the post match social media exchange but that was not how this reporter saw it) through the defence to dummy a player and score put the game to bed before Terry collected another when fed by Rowlands from a series of well executed long passes.
Although Lee got a hatrick and many others were mentioned in dispatches man of the match deservedly went to Eoghan O’Sullivan filling in at 9. Now here is a man that can pass off both hands as well as boss the forwards; although we hope he is back in the centres when we face our destiny in the Middlesex Vets League Play Off Final on (likely) 7th April…dust off your boots and your dancing shoes gents it should be a night to remember.