Web gallery: Ipswich 14 Eton Manor 43
- Credit: Su Anderson
With home advantage, lowly Ipswich went up against league leaders Eton Manor with confidence, wanting to prove they were worthy of their recent promotion to London 1 North, against a team still unbeaten.
To make up for their inexperience, Ipswich put as much pressure as they could on Eton Manor and dug in early on to quickly hold them off. The first scrum was awarded to a very assured Ipswich.
Eton Manor’s superior experience showed when the hosts knocked the ball forward and conceded a scrum, but Ipswich quickly rallied and managed to swipe the ball back from the scrum. The Londoners bounced back quickly and took the ball from the next scrum, only to be stopped by the hosts’ excellent tackling.
Although Ipswich had good possession of the ball during the first 15 minutes, Eton Manor scored the first points of the game with a converted try.
But the hosts pulled the score back level on 25 minutes when new outside centre Sam Jackson, a recent arrival from Hadleigh, set up substitute Luke Stewart for a try. Scrum half James Wilson converted.
Full-back Carlton Littlechild started to shine with his fearless ability to grab the ball and run toward the touchline, keeping up the pressure on Eton Manor and taking advantage of every fumble and mis-step.
Ipswich suffered a serious blow when flanker Craig Wilson received a heavy tackle from Eton Manor. He went down with an injured foot and had to leave the field.
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Ipswich stayed on level terms until just before half-time when a revived the visitors took advantage and pulled away with two quick scores. Their scrum-half, Reece Reed, missed the first conversion, injuring himself when kicking the ball. Another try was converted in injury-time and gave the Londoners a 19-7 half-time lead.
After half time, Ipswich started confidently and dominated the first ten minutes, their pressure forcing Eton Manor into handling errors.
Ipswich took quick advantage and moved up the field, but the Londoners regained their poise and Callum McKie converted for the visitors.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Eton Manor showed their experience and began to overpower Ipswich and dominate territory. An unconverted try by Eton Manor took the score to 31-7.
Undeterred, Ipswich pushed back. After holding the scrum, captain number eight Chris Blom floated by the Eton Manor players before passing the ball to prop Sam Goodwin, who quickly touched down behind the line 62 minutes in. Jackson converted the try.
However, incisive play by Eton Manor carved the Ipswich defence open four minutes later and the Londoners scored an unconverted try. Although leading 36-14, Eton Manor fell foul of the referee.
Two players were sin-binned for offences in the tackle area and their number 16, Jon Ewers, was awarded a red card after an illegal tackle on Blom.
Having only a team of 12 did not prevent Eton Manor from completely controlling the last quarter though, and their players converted another try.