LONDON 2 NORTH: Rochford Hundred 25 Ipswich 27
- Credit: James Ager
Should Ipswich attain promotion this season, the team could well look back to this pivotal game on a freezing cold, muddy pitch near Southend.
For most of the game Ipswich were under pressure from a resolute home side but colossal defence from all 15 Ipswich men restricted them to only three points at half time.
Meanwhile, in that time, the visitors had scored three tries, two from Simon Uzokwe and one from captain Chris Blom, two of which were converted by Corne Els. Ipswich led 19-3 at the break.
Now that particular score has a horrible resonance for Ipswich because it precipitated their only defeat this season, at Chelmsford, and for a brief moment it looked as though we were going to be treated to Groundhog Day.
The tenets were terribly familiar, first Corne Els was sin-binned late in the first half and on the restart Rocheford made the extra man count and scored a try.
However lessons had been learned from the Chelmsford game and good discipline ensured they didn’t compound the error by going down to 13.
Once restored to full strength, Els kicked a penalty and Ipswich scored a try by the unstoppable Uzokwe which went unconverted.
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The score by now was 27-17 and Ipswich while constantly on the defensive looked to have the match won. Until that is Chris Blom was sin binned.
Almost inevitably during that period the hosts scored with an unconverted try 22-27 and the ghosts of Chelmsford beckoned.
The hosts spurned the chance to draw level when they elected to kick an easy penalty rather than go for the try – later they claimed that the referee had said that there were eight minutes left when in fact there were three.
At 27-25 it was nail-biting stuff but from the penalty Ipswich gained field position and mercifully the referee blew his whistle.
When the whole is so significantly greater than the sum of the parts, it’s perhaps only the man who pulled it all together who should receive exceptional acclaim, and in this case the ‘man’ was Ipswich head coach, Johnny Breedt.
This was a display of guts cunning and cynicism in equal measure, all attributes that will be needed if the club plays in a higher league; however there is still the rest of this season and while the genesis may be found at Rochford it is in a place called Saffron Walden just before Christmas when Exodus may yet be penned.