Woodbridge battle hard but slip to home defeat in the rain
London 3 Eastern Counties
Woodbridge Warriors 3
Early scrum penalties put Woodbridge on the back-foot, James Wyatt missed a penalty kick but the short ball was knocked on by Adam Plummer and the resulting scrum became the first of many periods of duress for the home defence, which held well, writes Simon Ballard.
Matt Bowman, Tom Stokes, Ed Banthorp and Manny Aroza were among the ones putting in hard tackles - it was no surprise when Woodbridge dropped to 14.
As the rain started both sides kicked for territory, Woodbridge enjoyed some possession and Bowman ran a penalty with support from Jamie Smith and the tireless Aldis Salavejs at No8.
The counter from left wing Ollie Woodrow was quick however - forcing a try-saver from Smith. Holt capitalised on the resulting penalty, No8 Jeremy Seaman dropped his first try attempt but scored from the re-set 5m scrum.
Both sides tried flowing rugby – Tom Jackson, the Holt fly-half, fed his backs with good line-out ball from captain Ashley Woods at flanker and Salavejs was opportunistic from the back of the scrum.
Nevertheless most ground was made by kicking and it was Holt that besieged the Warrior line but were vexed not to score.
Holt started the second period with Woods, now playing at 8, and No7 Henry Harrison bashing down the right wing and Jackson punishing ruck penalties with corner kicks.
Star of the day was the Warriors’ defence which took a frequent and sustained battering from the unrelenting Holt pack.
A few substitutions refreshed the home pack and a line-out saw Bowman set captain Tom Stokes off on a 40m dart into the Holt 22 where Holt lost a player to the bin and Smith kicked three points.
It was looking promising and the crowd sensed a Warrior score, but Jackson intercepted a cross field pass and sprinted 50m to score a try that knocked the wind out of the Woodbridge collective.
With ten minutes to go Woodbridge broke the Holt 5m line but, with time and a strong Holt defence, any chance of a come-back was as miserable as the drizzle.