Exiles take on league leaders and yet again fail to get more points than the oppo, though clearly deserved the win.
Nick Greenhalgh reports from the back of the scrum.
Another tough game and another loss. Thus far we are mimicking the start of last years league season, where we had 7 games and 5 losses before having 7 games and 5 wins in the second half of the season, here’s hoping our form manifests later this season. We showed plenty of promise on Saturday though sadly the finishing off with tries didn’t happen.
The game started at a fair pace and we spent too much time in our half. OA’s got the first try after their full back caught a deep kick from a 22 yard restart. Exiles were running up in a single line well, though sadly the full backs pace was too much for our touch line channel markers to cope with and they scored an impressive try. Exiles came straight back at the oppo and mounted several attacks with some good individual runs. However, frequently loan runners, myself included, managed to find themselves caught without backup and failed to secure our ball. OA’s had the edge on the turn overs. Note to self and others we need to both get there in support and also the runner has to try and secure the ball more. That said finally we started to encroach on their try line and big Tom Chambers finished the job with a fine try. The conversion was missed but we had a sense that the game was all to play for.
The oppo came back hard also and shortly widened the score further in their favour. We found ourselves embroiled in a pretty physical ruck in which both teams were dishing out excessive their own interpretations of the law, allegedly legs were being lifted and elbows driven into backs in response, and utter distraction from the game ensued, with the exception the OA boys managed to use the confusion of the red mist period to fire the ball far to the other side of the pitch for their winger to score. The ref had words with the captains to inform the teams to stop talking back and to calm down and only question or inquire things of the ref through the captain channel. Sadly this conversation happened three many be five times and the refs patience was being stretched, more on that later. They also had a few penalty kick attempts and managed a 1 from 3 success rate from that.
We almost scored several times, though yet again failed to get the ball over the line in a clean and clear enough position for the ref to see the groundings. Alex K managed to score one of these non tries from a nice break off the back of a ruck. Definitely need to work on precision pods of forwards, communicating and being ready to put in the final try scoring phase instead of the white line fever that too often ensues, though that said their was more control in this area than earlier on in the season, we just need even more. Something for us to work on at training down at The Dove, Hammersmith this Weds eve.
The final oppo try came in again from a good run down on their wing. Looked like Andy M had the fella, as he smashed him into the flag and touch. However, our touch judge Paul managed to fall over and not see where the fella’s feet were. The ref just saw him touch hit the flag and ground the ball. Andy felt a bit aggrieved having thought the flag was deemed as out of play, however, quickly backed down on being informed by the ref and me that it had been many years since the flag post was ruled as out.
Special mention should go out to the scrum in this game. The oppo were a little under powered having turned up with just 15 men, and no dedicated 2nd row. The Exiles scrum took full advantage of this and Fabio worked some good magic in the front row managing to win a great deal of ball against the head, and I don’t think he lost any of his own put ins. This was a real bonus for us.
Other special mention to Joe S who sustained a nice smack in the nose for his efforts as no. 9 in Stef’s absence. Stef had been requested to help the Cougars out, and for that pleasure he too was supporting a nice facial injury, in the form of a big old puffy black eye.
We were assisted today by a couple of vets too. Stephane M and John R, who both proved they like to step up to the plate and put their bodies on the line for the club. Big thanks to John for also helping out the oppo when they lost a man. Seeing as we had about 23 players it did seem a little unfair not to help them out. However, some of the team were regretting this especially in the last 15 mins when we Spike popped on the pitch for a 3 minute cameo role before getting a yellow card. The ref, who incidentally ref’ed us in a cracking game against Feltham two weeks ago, had laid out clearly how he was going to ref this game in detail before kick off, and during the game too frequently had to tell the captains to stop back chat. So the net result of Spike objecting directly to him about the penalty call against him for not releasing the player prior to trying to rip the ball off the oppo no.8, resulted in the yellow card popping out.
This did, however, rile the Exiles re lit the fire that had started to fade. We had several nice brakes up the field. The oppo gave away a penalty about 10 yards out from their line. We went for the scrum, Fabio hooked, I pick up, popped out to the fly half (Dan), popped out to Madden on the wing. Madden managed to keep those Saffer legs pumping an his body position up while the forwards managed to re group and help drive him on toward their try line. There were a couple more phases of loose ruck play and finally Eff fired through and grounded the ball for our second and last try Eff’s got his work cut out in hunting down Jareth’s position as top try scorer this season, but don’t write him off just yet. We came back again quickly from the restart but sadly time was not on our side and as the ball went dead the final whistle went. If we had another ten minutes of play it would have been our game for the winning, honest!
Big thanks to OA’s who gave us a good game. Hope we can work on our securing of the ball and finishing of the job and take the win when we see you next. Funniest part of the match for me was when the oppo captain Ollie said that when we were running together we looked like "the Mario Brothers"! We were both no.8’s and both wearing scrum caps and both moustached for Movember. Nice! Lets see which one of us breaks and shaves it off before our re-match! Speaking of which lets get some sponsorship for the hair lipped Exiles.
Eff (Anthony Lynch)
Players and rough positions:
Dan Avery (10)
Ed Bloch (7)
Tom Chambers (1)
Barry Cousins (1)
Neal Craig (13)
Nick Greenhalgh (8) skipper
James Hitchcock (15)
Fabio Krasniqi (2)
Alex Kruczkowski (14/9)
Greg Life (3)
Anthony Lynch (4)
David MacSweeney (7)
Andrew Madden (11)
Stephane Maillefaud (5)
Ghassan Matta (3)
Jonathan McKeogh (12)
John Moore (5)
David Morgan (13)
Steve Richards (3)
John Ronane (6)
Joe Southwart (9)
Clive Lungley (13)