Brief report by Nick Greenhalgh
The Exiles were looking reasonable on paper for this return fixture against the team we lost 66-21 to on our season opener. However, come full time we left the field 44-0, a 1 point improvement in the points difference! Not much to write home about.
We were beaten by a better team who made use of fast runners, confident lines of attack, capitalising on every opportunity we gave them. Hats off to them they deserved the win. We also deserved some points but they never showed up. We managed to camp on their try line for several phases near the end of the game, probably had our best opportunity at that point. However, as has blighted us in the past there were discipline problems and sadly this distracted many a player’s attention away from the game. Dave Mac summed up this issue in the post match speech. "It’s killing us, turning player against player". Those concerned know who they are, it’s not the first time they’ve lost the focus of what we are about, but I hope it will be the last! I’ll be recommending that we start to sanction this behaviour swiftly. Either with self imposed sending off on the day without the ref having to take care of it, or a ban from taking part in say the next two fixtures. At the end of the day there will always be members of the opposition who try and gain advantage over their opponents through trying to niggle with them, hold them back from a move, or say something unpleasant. This is a flaw in their character, be a man and ignore it. If the infringement or holding back is persistent and not spotted by the ref, tell your captain who will ask the ref to watch out for it. Believe me when I tell you the very same fella will do the same next week to his next opposition, what you do is not going to bring any justice, it will likely get you sent off and cause half or more of your team to be distracted from their game. So, don’t let your team down, man up, ignore the torments and get on with playing rugby!
What else to report? There were a few stretches of exciting play, though sadly most culminated in a turn over and the oppo launching their high speed back line back into action. Saw some good pressure from Alex A and Alister B in chasing down oppo runners who were pretty sure they were home free. Manus’s enthusiasm on entering the game was quickly felt with a cracking run down the wing. The Exiles front five should be congratulated on the number of configurations they went through in order to accommodate all our players being rolled in and out and also a strong Hammers scrum.
Again fitness proved an issue, and we all need to under take more training to hone all our skills. I was as guilty as the next man in not being able to get that extra yard to stem the flow of opposition runners. Training at Ealing Trailfinders RFC has started up again for the amateur section 7:30pm on Tuesday evenings, I am hearing positive things about it, we need as many of you as possible to turn up to make it more worthwhile. Please do so.
The man of the match was Phil Jones, who was presented with an Ealing jersey after the match at the Hammersmith and Fulham club house aka The Wheatsheaf! Phil did not make a single mistake all game, missed no tackles, dropped no catches, was not out of breath at the end, did not engage in mouthing off the opposition or any low level brawling! Sadly though he also spent the whole match on the side line. Phil had to have an operation on his eye, after which he was informed by the surgeon that his contact sport days were over. So Phil’s boots have been hung up. Phil’s presence will be greatly missed as a consistent bulldozing no. 8. He was the only Exiles to score in last season’s Damian Bugeja Memorial match, where we had to be careful he wasn’t poached by the higher level Ealing sides 😉 He will now be taking on water boy duties and hopefully be able to diagnose the errors of the Exiles’ way from the sideline.
Next week we resume our league fixtures against Quintin away. Hopefully discipline will be restored, fitness improved, and we can really start the new year as we mean to continue! It is my birthday this week, turning 40, which typically means I get the pleasure of playing front row! If I make it through the match please come and join me celebrating at "The Plough", Northfields 8:00pm onwards (blatant plug to try and bolster numbers, to try and make myself seem popular!) cheers Nick