Ealing Evergreens went down to a heavy home loss on Saturday losing 51 points to nil against Richmond Heavies. The Ealing scrum was stuck in reverse gear all day, we won hardly any line out ball, conceded nine tries and scored none. But apart from that Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the show?
Well, the strange thing is, I quite enjoyed the game and talking to some of the lads after they felt the same. Despite the cloying conditions both sides were keen to run the ball and since we weren’t winning any set-pieces, Ealing had little choice but to run the ball.
We lined up with Jimmy Noak and Matt O’Neill at prop and myself at hooker. Rob Williams and Paul Clarke in the row. Back row was Stef Glancy at blindside, Justin Bugeja at open side and Bill Miller at eight. Dave Brathwaite and Andy Cleary at half-back. Centre pairing was Ed Beck and Dave Steene and on the wings Lawrence Chir and Simon Slattery. Ed Young at Full-back. Subs were Adrian Hobbs, Paul Lowen, Alex Adide and Mark Rutherford.
Richmond, as you’d expect, were well drilled and organised around the fringes. They made inroads into Ealing territory early on and played quite a good off-loading game. They were ably helped in this by us trying to go high in the tackles early on and getting promptly put on our backsides. Before we had got warmed up we were three tries behind and it didn’t help that our first five restarts probably didn’t travel a cumulative total of ten yards and resulted in handy scrums to Richmond straight after their first few tries. This was despite a few different guys having a go at the drop-outs! At one stage, Steeny said to me “Where do you want it?” “High” I said “give us a chance to get under it”. I ran as Steeny kicked off and the ball promptly landed behind me having gone 2 yards. At the next restart, before we’d even kicked off, some Richmond wag said they’d take the scrum! To be fair the ground was pretty chewed up but this was ridiculous!
But then we started making proper tackles and taking the game to Richmond in the loose. Ed Beck, Steeny and Slatts were prominent in open play and made several clean breaks. One such break saw Steeny on a mazy run past a few defenders before offloading to Lawrence who beat a few himself before getting hauled down agonisingly close to the line. There should have been someone on his shoulder and this was an area we were poor at, supporting the guy making the break. But we had a lot of chances to make an impression and I really don’t think that someone watching for long stretches of the game would have thought we were 50 points a weaker side than Richmond. They were clinical in the set-piece and much more organised out wide, some of their handling and off-loading was terrific, so as Roy Keane would say, at the end of the day, all credit to Richmond Heavies. However, there is no doubt we can compete in these games but we need our strongest side to be available. Injuries and people being away hurt us on Saturday but the good news is there are chances to put things right next year so start looking at your diaries!
Good work also by Justin Bugeja who tackled like a demon against a big pack before going off after taking a heavy knock. Well done to Lawrence who moved from the wing to cover at blind-side when Justin went off and got into the action straight away by getting a bloody nose! I honestly take no pleasure seeing a back having to rough it with the hairy boys and having his modelling career threatened. Honestly! I was laughing at something else Lawrence…..
Full marks to the entire team for never giving up, everyone showed great heart not to start hiding when the scoreline was looking ugly and we kept looking for the consolation score. It didn’t come but it wasn’t for lack of effort!
Speaking of lack of effort I had totally forgotten about the fact I had declared Hawaiian shirts to be the dress code for the night. So had everyone else except Adrian H who kindly lent me a spare…. What kind of man has a spare Hawaiian shirt?? Bad enough having one in your wardrobe!
So Happy Christmas to you all, may the festive season bring you all the after-shave gift packs and socks you could wish for. I hope everyone’s new year’s resolution is to play more rugby?