The Evergreens suffered their first loss of the season and oh what a loss! I know many people would say why do a match report after a heavy loss? Who wants to read about it? What is there to say after shipping such a heavy defeat? Actually there is quite a lot that can be said. Mainly that rugby is a 15 man game and we cannot hope to be successful with so many of our regular backs missing and those remaining playing completely out of position.
Once again, the first rule of Ealing Evergreens was “get a team on the pitch” and with a few phone calls and a little arm-twisting we ended up with the full 18 players on the day. I looked at our forward pack and thought we looked really tasty and I wasn’t proved wrong. Fair play to the backs who agreed to play in positions they would not normally play in and they stuck at it for the day but Barnes are a well drilled outfit with a lot of speed and experience out wide and that was the difference between us.
Ealing started with Stef Glancy, myself and Richie Melia in the front row, Paul Clarke and Bill Miller in the second row and Jamie Carlin, Rob Ellis and Dave Higgins in the back row. Arguably the strongest pack we’ve put out this year so far. Dave Brathwaite replaced the injured Vittorio at scrum-half and Ed Beck stepped into the fly-half position from his usual place at centre. Our two centres were Eric Murray and Adrian Hobbs, both normally wingers while on the actual wings we had Michele (usually a second row) and Paul Lowen. New chap, Chris, filled in at full-back despite normally being a winger. 5 wingers and a second row didn’t augur well for our defensive patterns! Subs were Bill Miller II, Mark Rutherford and Rob Williams, all of whom came on in the second half.
Now in most games where you dominate scrums and lineouts you would think you have a better than 50/50 chance of winning and the first ten minutes saw sustained Ealing pressure on the Barnes line but turnover ball spread wide saw them run in a long distance score totally against the run of play. That was the story of the first half with Ealing on top in the scrums and lineouts but unable to dictate the play enough or starve Barnes of possession. Barnes had three tries on the board before we got our first. Good forward play saw the ball given to Eddie Beck who stepped past and through three defenders to touch down for the try. Barnes picked up another two tries in the first half and the only one I remember anything about was when lineout ball was tapped down to our side on our 5 yard line . Normally I’d expect to be all over that like a cheap suit but this time it landed behind me and their hooker beat me to it to dive over for the score. Embarrassing. We added another try in the first half, again after good forward driving, when Jamie Carlin drove off the back of a maul and powered over despite the attentions of two Barnes players. Eddie Beck converted and the first half finished with Barnes ahead 5 tries to 2.
Early in the second half we went to uncontested scrums when Stef Glancy pulled his hamstring. The ref didn’t make us go to 14 men despite us not having a replacement prop. Speaking of the ref, he was a Barnes man due to their being no official ref appointed. He did a fair enough job but completely failed to penalise Barnes flopping over to our side at every tackle situation. Some well applied boots might have made the difference and encouraged tacklers to roll away and maybe that’s a lesson learned. The forward battle was, in many ways, won by Evergreens with Rob Ellis dominating the lineouts and Dave Higgins battering the Barnes line both when carrying ball and in defence. However, it was the Barnes backline that did the damage. They had speed, understanding and organisation and used big runners in midfield to suck in our defenders and then whipped it wide to exploit the gaps left. We missed our share of tackles as well which certainly didn’t help.
Despite Barnes adding another 4 tries in the second half we never gave up and kept running at them trying to improve the scoreline but ultimately to no avail. The simple lesson is that we cannot keep putting out teams that are thrown together on Friday night/Saturday morning. The big guns in our league have settled teams that play the same positions week in week out. We need to develop the same continuity because the fact is that if we had the back-line yesterday that we had against London Irish we would have won this game. We have a chance to get back on track next Saturday with an away trip to Weybridge but we need to start getting our best XV on the pitch in their usual positions if we want to get the results we are capable of.
Ealing Evergreens: 12
Tries: Beck, Carlin
Barnes Vets: 61