LONDON 2 NORTH: Saffron Walden 22 Ipswich 0
The faces of the Ipswich players were appropriately crestfallen in the club house on Saturday.
Defeat does not come easily to aspiring champions and they took their demise very much to heart. They shouldn’t have.
Make no mistake, Saffron Walden thoroughly deserved their win and, on the day, they were clearly the better team as Ipswich conceded the league’s top spot to their opponents.
The result on reflection may not be all that surprising, this is the game that the home team would have been targeting, the last one before Christmas, second versus first and on their own patch.
In contrast Ipswich had lost some of their killer-instinct in recent matches and had managed to get by in recent games but Saturday proved a step too far.
Perhaps the greatest compliment to the home side was that they restricted their visitors to nil – something not done by anyone else for three seasons.
And this really was the difference – the Ipswich defence was for the most part pretty good. Yes they conceded two tries and a penalty in the first half but it’s hardly surprising, conceding points to this calibre of opposition.
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Ipswich’s problem lay in their inability to produce any offensive threat at all. There were handling errors aplenty, as well as the fact that some of their most potent threats were refugees from the physio’s table.
This is not to decry the hosts who played as a collective brilliantly.
By half-time Ipswich were 17-0 down from two converted tries and a penalty. They halted the rot in the second half and restricted the home side to one unconverted try.
However, Ipswich simply did not present a threat of their own and after an unnecessarily unpleasant last five minutes the game finished 22-0.