REPORT: Ealing Exiles 5 – 6 London Welsh Vets

Exiles score only try v London Welsh Vets and lose by a point!

Report and photos from the frustrated spectator Nick Greenhalgh.

MMT Div 5 fixture 25th Sept 2010 Ealing Exiles 5, London Welsh 6

The Exiles played London Welsh last weekend and sadly put an end to the unbeaten league season with the tournament’s second fixture.  I arrived few minutes after the start to see the Exiles fail to convert the try Eff had just scored, so sadly I seem to have missed probably the only successful passage of play. Stef (skipper) informs Ian T set up the 80m try which Eff finished off!

A very frustrating match to watch from the sideline.  Great defence stopped the Welsh from ever getting over the try line. Some good work by new players.  Jareth has a good game on his debut, stealing plenty of ball and putting in some good tackles, as did T who was clearly well up for the contest.  Steve Richards also had a notable engagement which resulted in an oppo player stating that running into Steve was like running into a brick wall.

However, discipline issues were rife, niggles here and there, handling on the floor etc. Peter managed to pick up a yellow card, for being a bit too energetic in one of the rucks.

He would have got away with a caution had Steve Richards not been given a good rollicking for similar antics seconds before!  Other than that we were caught offside way to many times, and the ref we had was not going to lets us get away with any infringements.  I would be a rich man if I had a pound for each penalty we gave away. Kindly Welsh kicker missed the target with most of his opportunities, but then about 5 mins from the end after the back line had been caught off side again, he managed to get the ball through the uprights bringing them into the lead 6 to 5. Last ditch attempts from the Exiles to gain back victory were a plenty, however, thwarted on each occurance until the sands of time for this game had run out.

Things to take from the match…  defence was good, discipline needs work, running lines need to be straightened.  Perhaps my son Lucas had the best idea for the afternoon, he had a good nap during the entire game in his pushchair until it was time for post match Guinness.

We are looking forward to taking the Welsh on again down at their hallowed ground in a few months time, when I hope we have learned from our mistakes and stick a few more points on the board, something I have every confidence we can do!

Try:  Eff

Team: Gautier,Fabio Krasniqi,Steve Richards,Anthony Lynch,Tom Laishley,Peter Rank,Jareth Keenan,Malik Abu,Stef McCabe,Steve Weeks,Huw Rhys,Paul Toolan,Michael Toolan,Alistair Barnston,Ian Thynne,Gautam Tamang,Alex Adide,Afe Ogun,Mark Rutherford

Ian Thynne’s report – the players perspective:

London Welsh Vets were the visitors this weekend for an early kick off against the Exiles.  Following a good win against London French, the Exiles were keen to put one over another exiles team in the league. In turn, the Vets from London Welsh were also looking follow up their win against Chiswick and get off to a good early winning streak in the league.

After the pre match Guinesses, the Exiles were eagre to know if they would get a full starting line up.  With several late arrivers, it was getting twitchy as to whether the Exiles could maintain their good record of fulfilling fixtures with a complete team.  But come kick off the stragglers arrived and the Exiles welcomed back the Toolan brothers, and along with Malik (no.7) and Jareth (no.6), the Legend Macabe and ‘T’ the Exiles had a decent looking line up. 

Encouraging and magical words from the skipper the Legend Macabe sent the Exiles into the match in confident mood.  The Vets kicked off and immediately got into their stride.  Good old fashioned Vets play of kicking for position and using a big pack put the Exiles on the back foot.  The Exiles’ normal solid line out was under pressure and the scrum was not having its own way against the grizzled veterens.  The Vets started to get an upper hand thanks in no small part to some ill discipline by the Exiles, but on the plus side, the defence was outstanding.  Much of the first 15minutes was played in the Exiles half, with large periods in the 22.  But the excellent defence was keeping the Vets at bay, but any respite in territory was removed by some good kicking by the Vets 10, and some good running by their hooker and number 12 who generally made yards. 

The first score of the game came from a kick for territory by the Vets 10 who was doing a good job of emulating Rob Andrew (from the 90s when he had a proper job) and looking to play territory.  The ball was behind Ian Thynne (full back) who turned and with plenty of time lined up the kick for touch.  Unfortunately the ball held up in the wind on around the half way line, but fortunately, was fumbled by the Vets winger, and the inside centre hesitated in picking it up allowing the on rushing Thynne to follow up his kick and fly hack forward.  Still pursuing, the full back kick the ball inside, where Eff had been following up like all good second rowers should – he gathered smartly and threw himself over the line for a quality score against the run of play.

The rest of the half was spent down in the Exiles territory with a ref very eagre to ping the home side.  A series of penalties on the Exiles line resulted in the Yellow card being shown to the unfortunate Pete (hooker) who took the punishment for team offences.  The more penalties conceded, the more the Exiles got riled, which invariably led to more penalties.  The Exiles went into the break 5-3 up after the Vets had given up looking to cross the white wash in favour of shots at goal.  A moral victory to the Exiles defence.

Half time was a welcome breather, and it was a chance for the Exiles to regroup.  Substitutions were carried out, and a commitment to keep the penalty count down was made.

Unfortunately, the ref was not involved in that huddle and the second half was much the same as the first.  The ref was all over the Exiles at the break down and in the loose and at the line out, and the penalty stats must have been well over 40 against the Exiles to less than 10 for the Vets.  Probably something like that anyway, 75% of all stats are made up on the spot – probably.  The Exiles were pinged with or without the ball making it almost impossible to get any attacking momentum.  But the defence held strong and the Vets failed to cross the try line.  Instead they took advantage from one more penalty at goal to go 6 – 5 up.  From then on it was all about the Vets 10 kicking for touch and territory which he did with superb accuracy and consistency. 

When the Exiles did get ball they always looked dangerous, but just could not put back to back moves together without the sound of the whistle.  The game fizzled out to more whistling against the Exiles, and it ended 6 – 5.

It is difficult for the Exiles to criticise that performance.  The defence and tackling was superb, and the fact the Vets failed to cross the try line was testament to a fantastic effort.  Against such heavy whistling it would have been easy for the Exiles to pack up and go home, but full credit for sticking at it.  It would also be a harsh to overly criticise the discipline as against London French the penalty count was very low, yet one week later the Exiles were seemingly pinged for all manner of offences including at one line-out for not giving away a penalty (that might be made up).
One thing must be learned from this game though and that is for the Exiles to consider diplomacy when confronting the referee.  Whilst the Exiles may think the referee needs help, less expletives should be used to get the message across.

Well done to the Vets, in particular the 10, 12 and 2.