The Ealing Exiles fail to hold back the invading Spaniards in a close and enjoyable 5-12 loss on Sunday 7 February 2010. Nick Greenhalgh reports.
For some, it was the third rugger match in as many days. For others it was their first, due to not bothering to read the finer points (such as time of kick off) of fixture e-mails (mentioning no names, Chandra, Andy M…!).
This weekend saw Denia RFC come to visit Ealing RFC. Our old friends from the east coast of Spain were very well welcomed and seemed to greatly enjoy our hospitality.
Quique, their helmsman, and himself an exiled Exile from ten years or so ago, managed to take a knock to his eye on Friday night playing against the Ealing Evergreens, which caused a tear under his eyelid. Though this should have ruled him out, come Sunday he was not going to miss out on playing against his old team, and so on the first-team pitch he led out the mighty 14 Spaniards to take on the 13 Exiles who had made it.
We dropped a back and a forward. The scrum consisted of Simon H (1), Barry (2/3), Mark L (3), Tom (4), Patrick (5), Fabio (6/14), Nick G (8/13), with Chandra (11/2) switching with Barry to hook, who then propped after Mark L sustained a broken rib, and Andy M (14/7) switching from the backs to flank mid-game. The backs heralded Stef (9), Spike (10), Mark T (12) and Alex K (13) as well as those mentioned above at various times of the game.
Given that we were on the tail end of a three day touring/drinking session, the game started at a reasonable pace. The Spaniards were lively and, taking advantage of the extra man, fairly swiftly managed to get on the scoreboard with a well run-in try in the corner. Exile fitness, had it been better, could have prevented this. However, numbers in support were not adequate to stop this try, despite some scrabbling to get over the line! One extra Exile could have saved those points. Thankfully the try was not in easy kicking range and the conversion was missed.
Shortly after this we sustained a match-ending injury to Alex K who, having caught Spike’s cross-field kick, boldly side-stepped his way to aggravate an old knee injury, forcing him to leave the arena. We were down to 12 men at this point.
The Spaniards considered making the sides even (13-a-side) then decided that they quite liked the one man advantage! Can’t say I blame them. They did however agree to removing one of their players and so we continued 12 versus 13!
The Denia scrum half was the real danger man of the day, and he showed as much with a cracking run through our backs eluding a few tackles and running in a try from a reasonable distance out. This try was within easy kicking distance from the uprights and we found ourselves at 0-12, and this was how the first half ended.
We started the second half with more vigour and defended many attacks well. Finally as we neared the Spaniards’ line a set piece move worked well. Stef popped the ball from the base of the scrum to Spike, Mark T at inside centre rushed up as Spike did some move called dummy scissors pass (as a forward in the backs these terms are not overly familiar), missing out Mark and firing the ball to me at outside centre. I just managed to gather the ball without dropping it and charged into a couple of opposition bodies, before popping the ball out to Chanrda who then moved it out onto Andy M for a nice clean try.
We missed the conversion, but felt we could be on to a winner: things were starting to gel, and the score was 5-12 with 20 minutes or so to go.
The Exiles pretty much dominated the second half. Despite being a man shy in the backs compared to them they were unable to make use of the overlap. We closed them down pretty well. Fabio played the role of winger-cum-fullback pretty well. He certainly got plenty of ball as lots of high kicks went his way. However, his old knee injury was holding him back from backing himself and on a few occasions sought the sanctuary of the pack instead of backing himself for the corner flag. This is nothing a dose of sprint training won’t fix!
The backs managed to get a fair amount of ball, and we had some good runs, but sadly not good enough to increase the score. Chandra almost played the play of his life with a short chip for Barry, however, the ball found touch after some scrabbling to hold on to it. Some might say fate was not on our side!
Shortly after this the full-time whistle sounded, and we found ourselves a disappointing second in the match!
Big thanks to the Spaniards for invading Ealing this weekend. We look forward to playing with (as we did in Cobh a couple of years ago) or against them again in the near future. Barry managed three games in three days – the legend lives on!
Photos from the day can be found here.
|Ealing Exiles 5||Denia 12|