Ipswich ready for derby-day decider

RUGBY LEAGUE: West London Sharks 48 Ipswich Rhinos 20. IPSWICH go into Saturday`s East Anglian Derby clash atNorth Walsham fired up and ready to fight for a secondEastern Division title in three years.

West London Sharks 48 Ipswich Rhinos 20

IPSWICH go into Saturday`s East Anglian Derby clash at

North Walsham fired up and ready to fight for a second

Eastern Division title in three years. A win for

Ipswich on Saturday would keep the race alive until

the final day of the season on Saturday 4th August

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when Rhinos entertain Bedford and Saints face North


Despite defeat,Ipswich earned a lot of praise from

their high flying London League Opponents following

this cross division encounter on saturday at

Grasshoppers ground in Isleworth. The Rhinos expect to

be back to full strength on Saturday following two

consecutive away trips to Oxford and West London with

patched up teams. After a keenly contested game Iswich

held sway and the lead for the first 15 minutes

before West London took control and a first half lead

of 26-2 with tries from Matt Barnes, Alex Sanerine,

Ben Smadje and Leon John in answer to Pete Le

Marquand`s Early Penalty. Ipswich finished strongly

and actually held the Sharks to an 18-18 second half

tie thanks to tries from Mike Reeves(2), Pete Le

Marquand and Andy Wilson. This week`s match report

comes from stand in skipper Shaun Griffin who gives a

unique players insight into Saturdays game and life on

the road with the Rhinos.......

"At least 14 of the Ipswich squad have been sidelined

due to injury and simply putting a side out has been

like a military operation! Several clubs including

Norfolk have failed to fulfil cross conference away

fixtures this season, but against the odds on

Saturday, Ipswich maintained a proud tradition of

never having called off a conference league fixture in

over five years of playing in the ground breaking

summer competition.

On the second leg of three away fixtures in a row at

the end of the season the Rhinos were always going to

struggle against the in form West Londoners. The

injury ravaged Rhinos put together a side that

included 18 year old Neil Pollard younger brother of

scrum Half and assistant Coach Richard. The one

substitute was forward Andy Windridge and he should

have been resting an injury. Other Teams can I doubt

claim to have a clear consience when speaking of

difficult away cross conference fixtures. The Rhinos

did the league proud by competing in a game that was

from the start going to be a mountain to climb.

The intensity was raised by the news that one of our

number had suffered a family bereavement in the days

leading up to the game. That player`s personal

dedication to the team and an emotional pre match talk

set the scene and the level of committment which the

Rhinos were to display throughout the match.

Even a non Rugby League observer may have asked

questions relating to the "David and Goliath" nature

of this game, as the sheer size of the home team

seemed to give them a three stone advantage per man.

The Rhinos are made of stern stuff these days though

and showed contempt for the big London team taking the

lead early on through a Pete Le Marquand penalty goal.

In a frenzied opening quarter both sides went about

each other like a cup final and it took the Londoners

a full 15 minutes to cross the Ipswich line.

Giant Sharks skipper Alex Sanerine nicknamed "Quentin

Pongia" by the Ipswich Players due to his uncanny

likeness to the New Zealand Rugby Test Star added

another try for the home side. The Rhinos then had

their poorest period when the Sharks ran in three

unanswered tries including a length of the field try

from Smadje a real livewire of a winger.

The sides turned around at the break with West London

26-2 to the good. A hill to climb became a mountain

when the home sides speedy prop forward caught

Ipswich still on their half time nap to add to his

first half score.

This was the turning point for the Rhinos who had

already taken a battering but they showed the kind of

character that had kept them top of the conference

Eastern division for four weeks. Mike Reeves was

instrumental in all the Rhinos did and must now have

earned himself consideration for a place in the

Conference representative side against My own RAF rep

side in two weeks time. Reeves` direction and the

organisational talents of Vaughan Evans at Hooker kept

our hardworking forwards ticking over particulary in

the opening exchanges and through the second half.

"Reevo`s" reward was two tries including the try of

the match, which He ran in from forty yards beating

off the attentions of four would be tacklers. Even

front row regular dummied his way over from close

range to doulble his tally for the year. Pete Le

Marquand who scores every week with his boot rounded

of a strong period of Ipswich pressure wih a try which

really did frustrate West London who had expected us

to keel over in the sun in the second half!

Jules Gray our other Ipswich Rugby Union convert also

covered himself in glory along with Lee Haylock backed

up in the forwards by yours truely. For a forward line

to get through so much work with out replacements

shows the spirit which runs through this side. The

West London Sharks are a seriously good outfit but

they knew they had been in a game and the higher

standard we have met in the cross conference fixtures

in the last two weeks will hopefully stand us in good

stead when we travel away (for the third week in a

row)to face Norfolk on Saturday. This is the game we

have all been looking forward to this season the size

of the team bus has been doubled to take supporters

and injured players! Everybody wants to be involved in

an East Anglian Derby match and with a championship up

for grabs there is added spice to the encounter,

although for the players every clash involving these

two sides are special.

Apparently, Norfolk have been unable to play the last

two weeks due to match cancellations, so although we

are taking nothing for granted we have a slight

advantage in terms of match fitness and a great chance

of maintaining our record this season of not being

beaten by any Eastern Conference sides."..

Shaun Griffin was talking to www.rhinos.co.uk

Ipswich side vs West London

Paul Le Marquand,Pete Le Marquand, Brendan Cook,

Vaughan Evans, Gareth Edwards, Jules Gray, Lee

Haylock, Joe Francis, Richard Pollard, Shaun Griffin,

Mike Reeves, Andy Windridge and Neil Pollard.