Brentwood 12 Eton Manor 40 (London & South East Division: North 1) 1st March 2014
The home side, with key injuries before and during the game, would have found it difficult to beat this Eton Manor outfit even with their best side...
Brentwood 12 Eton Manor 40 (London & South East Division: North 1)
1st March 2014
By David Anderson
With seven games to play this season, Eton Manor are firm favorites to finish in the top two of the league. Currently lying second with 74 points, they are well ahead of Brentwood who are seventh with 58 points. The reverse fixture saw the visitors beat the home side by only 3-0 on a mudbath of a pitch, so Brentwood’s supporters were hoping for a close match. But that was not to be!
Unavailability and injury saw three changes to the Brentwood team this week. Antony Sherwood returned to the front row along with Tom King in the back row. Adam Thomas, sidelined with a shoulder injury, was replaced by Jon Wylie.
The conditions were ideal for open rugby with bright sunshine and a soft but playable pitch.
The first quarter proved to be the worst start of the season for the Brentwood team. Eton Manor kicked off down the slope and after a forceful drive from the Brentwood pack, they quickly recovered, turned over the ball, broke through a weak home defence and scored an easy converted try.
More bad news followed for Brentwood when second row Rob Hobbs retired with a knock to the head. Back-row James Metcalfe substituted causing the pack to be reorganised.
Another quick move to break the home defence saw Eton Manor ahead by 14-0. Within minutes the visitors were dominating the game against a totally ineffectual Brentwood side. Lacking any aggression and direction, the home side were soon at the mercy of the slick visitors.
A further try in the left corner gave Eton Manor a match-winning 21-0 lead. Under constant pressure, Brentwood were forced into making countless errors. With their normally dominant pack playing second fiddle to a much shorter unit, the home side leaked a fourth try. At the end of the first quarter, Brentwood found themselves 28-0 down.
Further trouble came when the other Brentwood second row, captain Josh Woodcock, was sidelined with an ankle injury and was replaced by front row Terry Snooks.
Although Brentwood had a ten minute period of good sustained rugby, turnovers continued to be won by Eton Manor allowing their
winger to sprint the length of the field for his side’s fifth try.
At half time the visitors were 33-0 ahead with the home side in disarray. With Brentwood unable to control the ball for much of the first half, Eton Manor were able to impose their game from the start and looked capable of thrashing their hosts.
However, playing down the slope in the second half Brentwood picked themselves up. Although the game was lost, they had something to prove to Eton Manor.
A series of forward drives took the ball into their opponent’s 22, where good handling saw centre Jon Wylie crash over for the home side’s first try. Converted by scrum-half Luke Green, Brentwood had at last put some points on the board.
Taking heart from this score, Brentwood picked up their game. However, Eton Manor’s quick backs ran in another converted try from deep in their own half to raise the score to 40-7. With home full-back Darryl Worster injured, Alec Brindle came on at fly-half.
Eton Manor’s line kicking kept Brentwood’s attack away from their 22. But again this week, when Brentwood did manage to cross Eton Manor’s line, the ball was held up.
With minutes to go, Brentwood kept pressing on the Eton Manor tryline until their defence eventually cracked and Green ran a clever line to score his side’s second try.
A comfortable win for Eton Manor who retain their second place and continue on their quest for promotion. Their first half performance was the best seen at Brentwood this season.
The home side, with key injuries before and during the game, would have found it difficult to beat this Eton Manor outfit even with their best side. However, they certainly contributed to their own downfall with a non-existent first half showing. Brentwood slip to eighth in the league with the same number of points as Letchworth.
Team: Dorling (C), Sherwood, Bevans-Royston, Woodcock, Hobbs, Whaley, King, Aldous, Green, Watson, Dorling (L), Wylie, Gillet, Smith and Worster.
Next week, the Brentwood 1st XV match is at home against Old Haberdashers on 8th March (ko 3.00pm).