The Ealing Exiles finally get a second win this season with a victory over SODAM. Nick Greenhalgh reports.
After a troubled start to the season the Exiles put in a good performance against our old friends at SODAM on Saturday. As usual in recent weeks our numbers have been hit by the Autumn internationals, not to mention the loss of a few of our antipodean companions. However bolstered by three Evergreens and a spare SODAM prop we had 15 on the pitch for the start of the game. Barry helmed the side in this contest, despite pulling a muscle in his back when demonstrating how line-out lifting should be done in the pre-game warm-up session.
The scrum was worked well from the offset. It was fronted by the pocket rocket that is Dave MacS, Big Bad Barry and our SODAM loan player (later to be replaced by the Exiles’ number one line-out practitioner, Steve R). The second row powerhouse was fueled by Tom L and Rob W. The back row stabilising this affair was Malik and Andy M on the flanks, with Dave M taking the number 8 slot.
The back line was also not too shabby: Spike played at 9 with Paul H taking on the fly half duties ready to feed our centre partnership of Paul T and Adrian. On the right wing we had a heavily-strapped Fabio trying to shrug off a long-running knee injury (I must note that Fabio did one awesome kick during the match much to the surprise of himself and everyone else, and getting the Exiles out of a tricky situation). On the left we had newcomer Simon L, who had been collared in the New Inn by Alex and me during the Wales v Samoa match the night before. Simon took on the challenge of his first game in five years well, fumbled a couple of kicks, but also caught some, and put in some good runs and showed he was not going to shy away from getting involved: a promising start for our newest player. At the rear, the full-back role was taken on by Alun, whose steady hands as ever helped the Exiles well in this match.
The weather was appalling: wind and rain drove in hard on the exposed SODAM pitch. The conditions did not make referee Paul (Slaps) afraid to use his whistle and he certainly made some interesting decisions for both sides. However, despite this the game was fast and flowed pretty well considering. The Exiles made some good drives and Malik was particularly notable with his strong ball carrying antics.
Frequently making ground and aiding the Exiles driving challenges, Malik also got the first points on the board with a nice try early on in the game. The Exiles had been looking pretty dominant in general and so it was good to get some recognition of this with these crucial points.
Paul H also had a good game, though it looked to be over a little too quickly after he was felled with a dastardly trip. Very fortunately for the Exiles, a splash of magic water and a grimace saw him get back on his feet and complete the game.
Dave M played very well, frequently disturbing the opposition in the line-out. From the number 8 position, he also made some good breaks from the back, where he was well protected by Spike’s effective blocking of the opposition’s scrum half. One of these pickups led to the second try.
Aside from some cracking tackles, both centres, Adrian and Paul T, had several good runs and the latter managed to get over the line for the third try.
With just one minute left on the clock, SODAM managed to pick up an interception and one guy ran half the length of the pitch to put the ball down behind our try line. A shame that the Exiles let their guards down, but full credit to SODAM for sticking at it right to the end.
Overall the Exiles can be proud of their performance. The game was a pleasure to watch depsite the poor weather and all involved helped us to this well-earned victory. Hopefully it bodes well for repeat performances. Was it (the seldom seen) Angry Barry’s vicious half time rant, Dave MacS’s final words at half-time, or Andy M’s relentless criticism of the referee that led to this victory? Personally I think we need to thank Alex’s oranges, especially those ones he spiked with Red Bull for the Exiles, and muscle relaxants for the opposition!
Big thanks as usual to our old friends at SODAM for the game and the hospitality afterwards. More pictures are here.
|SODAM 7||Ealing Exiles 19|
|Tries:||(1)||Tries:||Malik, Dave M, Paul T|