After a very wet and windy few days the rain subsided mid-way through Saturday morning, just in time for this fixture to take place. The pitch sported a few puddles and was very soggy to the point where it would make it heavy going for both teams. It was good to see Henry Kirkpatrick back from injury and he was champing at the bit to get into the action. The wind was blowing from left to right and Es chose to play into the wind in the first half.
1st XV SQUAD: Jack Houlder, James Brooke, Tom Brewer, Adam Skyner, Dom Horn, Matt Bailey, George Burnie, Rhys Edwards, Wil Patterson, Will Appleton, Luke Jagger, Sam Brewer, Pat Dore, Kit Douel, Matt Carr, Matt Hudson, Henry Kirkpatrick, Joe Watkins.
MATCH REPORT: It was a really slippery start and it was Whitehall who had the chance to take the lead after 6 minutes but they pulled the penalty kick wide of the right upright. It had been a brighter start for Es than in recent weeks and after ten minutes they pushed into the Whitehall 22 using the ball sensibly in the wind and a penalty to Es was taken quickly and Pat Dore stole in just wide of the right upright, conversion into the wind hung in the air but missed (0-5).
Es looked as if they would increase their lead a few minutes later when Whitehall made a mess of a lineout in their 22 and ended up taking the ball over into their dead ball area, a chance for Es to strike from the scrum but unfortunately Es lost the scrum. The game
became a bit messy for both teams and it started to look like Trench Warfare with only small incremental gains for both teams. Indeed, Whitehall were having a lot of possession but good Es' tackling kept them pinned back. With Sam Hygate not available the 9 shirt was returned to Wil Patterson and at the next scrum he flattened their No.8 as he attempted to pick up at the back of the scrum, with the Es' scrum starting to give the Whitehall forwards a hard time in the scrums.
A good run and kick by Kit Douel put Es into the Whitehall 22 and just before half time a Yellow Card was shown to a Whitehall player and Es pounced through George Burnie to score Es' second try, not converted. The half time whistle went to a pretty uneventful first half but Es had done what was necessary in the conditions and against the wind. Half time score (0-10).
Matt Hudson on for Dom Horn, with second row partner Adam Skyner staying on hoping to add to his try tally but this was to backfire later in the game! Henry Kirkpatrick on for James Brooke, with Matt Bailey moving to Hooker. Es didn't make the 10m line from the restart the Ref. bringing play back for a scrum on the halfway. Immediately there appeared to be more urgency to Es' play with the wind at their backs.
The forwards won the ball against the head at the next scrum and Es marched up for a 5m lineout. Es spun the ball to and fro but a good pick up and pass in the middle of the pitch on the Whitehall 22m line set up Rhys Edwards for a third Es' try with a successful conversion from Will Appleton (0-17).
Joe Watkins on for Kit Douel who was freezing as the temperature had dropped, confirmed by the shivering Es' supporters. Es attacked the right-hand side of the pitch and a good quick ball saw Jack Houlder boulder his way over for a good bonus point try, with Will Appleton adding the extras (0-24).
Es' scrums continued to work well and following one good effort a kick through and a lucky bounce ended up with George Burnie running in a 5th try, his second, from all of 45 metres out but not converted (0-29).
At this point I made what can sometimes be a fatal mistake by stating that Whitehall didn't look like scoring as they produced their best moves of the game, Es looking a little disorganised, and a better team probably would have taken advantage but Es' Blue Wall held out, and following a good hit by George Burnie Es cleared their lines. Then Adam Skyner, now on the side lines, was wishing he had stayed on, as he saw his fellow lock, Dom Horn, steal in for a 6th try. Apparently the two of them have a try competition between them with Dom Horn now winning 4 to 2. Conversion missed (0-34).
Whitehall to their credit never gave up and showed good endeavour but were never a real threat. Sam Brewer continued his excellent performance with another strong midfield run and as the ball came back to No.10 Will Appleton, to end the game, in the tradition of Jonny Wilkinson, tried to kick a drop goal but missed, one for the Court perhaps!! A good win by Es in terrible conditions, not the prettiest of spectacles but attention now switches to next week's tough home fixture against St Mary's Old Boys 2:00pm KO. C'MON THE Es.
FINAL SCORE: Whitehall 0 – 34 Old Elizabethans
Tries: Pat Dore, George Burnie (2), Rhys Edwards, Jack Houlder, Dom Horn
Conversions: Will Appleton (2)
Man of the Match: It could have gone to a number of players including Rhys Edwards and Sam Brewer but in the end with his brace of tries it was given to George Burnie.
Full Table and Fixture List below
Report by: Paul “Blakey” Barrington