Having lost twice to Dings II last season and also having lost the first two games of this league season it was going to take a big effort to overcome this Dings side. Fortune should always favour the brave and on this hot sunny afternoon OEs needed to stand up and be counted. With Toby Wilcox and Benji Wagstaffe making their league debut for Es, and a welcome return for Lucas Sadler none of them disappointed making a really big contribution to the performance in what was to prove to be a real topsy-turvy game, preceded by a one minute silence in memory of Dave Perkins.
1st XV SQUAD: George Burnie, Matt Bailey, Lucas Sadler, Adam Skyner, Dom Horn, Rhys Edwards, Jake Perry, Rob Lee, Sam Hygate, Will Appleton, Luke Jagger, Pat Dore, Will Tobin, Leo De Carlo, Tobias Burden, Toby Wilcox, Matt Hudson, Benji Wagstaffe.
MATCH REPORT: A sizeable crowd were soon cheering, or at least the Es' support as a through ball was chased into the far right hand corner of the dead ball area, the referee consulting with the linesman (Barrie Darby) and the try was awarded (not converted) (5-0).
Es were showing some real steel and moving the ball through the hands. Unfortunately, an early thigh injury to Leo De Carlo ended his game early, replaced by Benji Wagstaffe. A promising drive from a lineout almost saw Es score again but the referee signalled 'Held Up'. An Es mistake with a dropped ball then gave Dings the momentum and they quickly engineered a driving maul and scored and converted (5-7).
Es were straight back into the Dings half from the restart and some great play led to an excellent try for Back-row forward Jake Perry, with Sam Hygate adding the conversion (12-7).
Reliable hands from the restart saw Adam Skyner secure the platform needed from a restart. Dings pressure soon after though came up against a determined 'Blue Wall' which again and again thwarted the Dings attack. With Es back inside the Dings 22 a good maul from Es saw skipper George Burnie spin and go over for a try with Sam Hygate adding the extras (19-7).
It was too early to dream of victory and Dings were straight back in it and winning a 5m scrum broke and scored a converted try (19-14).
Attacking rugby however from Es was soon to once again be rewarded when Luke Jagger broke free getting in behind the Dings back line with only their No.15 to beat but a great side step and he was left for dead for a Jagger try and Hygate conversion (26-14).
Once again, though, Dings capitalised on an Es' error which put them into the Es' 22 and a 7 metre lineout drive gave them a further 7 points to give a half time score line of (26-21).
Es started the second half brightly but whilst driving forward gave away a penalty and Dings cleared their lines. For the first 15-20 minutes of the second half there was no score and it was too difficult to know which way this game was going! The Es' defence was superb resisting Dings pressure following a predictable Dings lineout drive and maul. Sadler off, Wilcox and Hudson on. The Es' scrum was growing in confidence led by George Burnie having another sterling performance at prop and indeed they drove the heavier Dings pack backwards a few times. However, Es' efforts were thwarted by committing a string of penalties! Es were looking to keep the play flowing and tire the heavier Dings forwards. Following a good scrum, a break by Es took them into the Dings half and a good run from Toby Wilcox saw the ball end up in the arms of Rhys Edwards who battled his way over the line for a try and Hygate conversion to stretch the lead to 33-21.
A good run from Tobias Burden relieved the pressure and but for a spilled ball looked like a certain try! Following a great kick from Sam Hygate Dings cleared their line but a loose ball was secured by Will Tobin who broke through passing to Dom Horn in support before offloading to Rob Lee for a well-earned try and conversion by Sam Hygate (40-21).
Es lost the ball again from the restart and Dings pounced on it breaking our defensive line but Tobias Burden put in a great try saving tackle, but sadly to no avail as Dings picked up the ball for a converted try (40-28).
Es continued to look the slighter, fitter team and a great volley kick from Jagger gave Es a 50/22 and a lineout which killed any last-minute Dings comeback and that's how it ended a really well-deserved victory, one that Dave Perkins would have no doubt approved. Next week we travel to Dursley, another real test of our metal, Come on Es!
It should be mentioned here that our Chairman, Dom Swann, sustained an injury in the TCs game and rather than go to hospital he returned to Hallen to manage the after-match BBQ. Thanks Dom!
FINAL SCORE: Old Elizabethans 40 – 28 Dings II
Tries: Jake Perry, George Burnie, Luke Jagger, Rhys Edwards, Rob Lee
Conversions: Sam Hygate (5)
Man of the Match: George Burnie
Spectators Man of the Match: Rhys Edwards
Full Table and Fixture List below
Words by: Paul “Blakey” Barrington
Photographs by: Ann Brook