1st XV - Match centre

Eton Manor
Saffron Walden
Sat 4 Mar 15:00 - London & SE Division - London 1 North Full time

Manor hit form to defeat Saffron Walden

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Manor welcomed Saffron Walden to the New Wilderness this week eager to make up for a lacklustre performance at the away fixture earlier in the season. Again the Manor squad was much changed from that who played Thurrock with 6 enforced changes, this gave Manor the opportunity to give a debut off the bench to Frankie Sullivan and for the first time in the first team the flying Italian Martelletti brothers started a match together.

Manor made the perfect start when from the kick off, Saffron Walden were awarded a scrum which Manor won against the head then attacked their opponents winning a couple of penalties which they kicked for lineouts. On the second lineout Tom O’Connor won the ball allowing Manor to drive the ball on before feeding their backline where Elliot Brown joined in the attack from fullback, took the ball into Saffron Walden’s 22, dummied out to his winger then cut through the visitors defence to score Manors first try. With blustery conditions the conversion was missed but after five minutes Manor led 5 - 0.

If Manor thought things would be all one way then they were mistaken, after dealing with the initial re-start and clearing the ball, the visitors put a high kick into Manors 22 and although Manor secured the ball, an attempted clearance kick was charged down and with the visitors reacting the quickest they pounced on the bouncing ball and scampered over the line for an equalling score, with the conversion missed after eight minutes the scores were tied at 5 all.

EM v Saffron Walden 04/03/2017
98 photos

Manor responded almost immediately when after winning a lineout they drove the ball forward 15 meters before releasing Manors speedy backline and after initial territory was made by Nick Sheppard the ball was passed out to Rhys Davis-Horne who put a grubber kick through Saffron Walden’s advancing line, the ball struck the foot of one of their players and bounce kindly for Davies -Horne who grabbed the ball and ran through a gap in the defensive line then ran in under the posts from 20 meters out. Sheppard was successful with the conversion attempt and Manor had re-taken the lead 12 - 5.

Saffron Walden now had a period of possession where they retained the ball well as they went through the phases attacking inside Manors 22, but the home sides defence held firm and eventually they turned the ball over and launched a fast flowing counterattack from deep inside their 22 where the ball was moved out to Brown who raced along the touchline before kicking the ball into Saffron Walden’s 22 and although the opposition got to the ball first Manors forwards were quickest to the breakdown and again turned the ball over and with quick ball, Manors backline attacked, Callum McKie taking the ball across his centres dummied to pass out to the wing then cut back inside and despite the attentions of a couple of defenders managed to get over the line to score Manors third try and although the conversion was again missed Manor had increased their lead to 17 - 5 after 14 minutes.

Manor were by far the dominant team and again from the kick off Brown linked well with Corrado Martelletti who made 25 meters up field before passing back to the supporting Brown who was finally stopped 5 meters short of Saffron Walden’s line. Manor were now camped inside their opponents 22 where John Robinson and George Cosma were both stopped short of the line, but Saffron Walden defended well and eventually turned the ball over and cleared the ball for a Manor lineout. Here Rory Moore won the throw in at the back of the line and with quick ball off the top, the ball went out to Barney Newbury, with Manors backline now in full flow the ball went out along the line and with dummy runners confusing the opposition, Brown joined the line, drew the last man and passed out to Corrado who from 20 meters out finished off a text book move by scoring in the corner. Although the difficult conversion was missed after 23 minutes Manor had already secured the try scoring bonus and taken their lead out to 22 – 5.

Manor continued to have the upper hand but due to some resolute defence they could not add to their tally. Saffron Walden gradually began to get back into the game and worked their way into Manors 22 where they stayed for five minutes and despite some aggressive defence form Manor, the pressure eventually told as a gap was found in Manors line which let Saffron Walden go over for a well deserved score. With the conversion successful, after 30 minutes the visitors had reduced the deficit to 22 – 12.

Manor almost responded immediately when from the kick off a clearance kick was half charged down, Robinson was quickest to respond picking up the loose ball driving it forward before it was shipped along the line to Luigi Martelletti who beat the first man then stepped inside before setting it up, some patient play saw the ball shipped out to the opposite wing where Corrado took the ball at pace before chipping it into the dead ball area but the ball just went out of play before he could touch it down for a score.
Although Saffron Walden cleared their lines from a 22 drop out Manor returned play immediately to the visitors 22 where they were awarded a scrum 10 meters from the line. With Manor securing the ball, it was fed out by Nick Horton to Sheppard in the centre, he then threw a dummy turned on the spot and raced through a large gap in the defensive line going over under the posts for what turned out to be a seven point score increasing Manors lead to 29 – 12.

With the half coming to an end Manor still created another scoring opportunity when a powerful break from close to hallway by Robinson saw play again inside Saffron Walden’s 22 where after a series forward drives Manor were awarded a penalty. They opted for a scrum which they won allowing Horton to dart blind drawing the Saffron Walden winger infield allowing Horton to pass out to Luigi on the wing and he had the pace to go in at the corner. The conversion was missed but with the halftime whistle being blown shortly afterwards Manor led 34 – 12.

The second half started off with Saffron Walden securing the kick off then attacking Manor where, after moving the ball along their line, their No 7 joined in the attack running a sublime line dissecting Manors defence, he ran at pace and only a last ditch tackle by Brown stopped him crossing the line. The break gave Saffron Walden the opportunity to batter Manors line and only a knock on stopped them from scoring.

Saffron Walden continued to attack but Manor defended well then eventually won possession when they took a ball against the head at a scrum allowing Manor to set off on a fast paced attack during which McKie and Brown combined well before feeding Luigi out on the wing, he broke through the first tackle, out paced the next defender before breaking through an attempted double tackle and raced over the line for a fine individual try. The conversion was not added but the score had moved on to 39 – 12 after 10 minutes of the second half.

Manor continued to apply the pressure keeping Saffron Walden pinned in and around their 22, when after a series of forward drives Robinson managed to power over the line for another Manor score, again the conversion was missed taking the score to 44 – 12 after 18 minutes.

Manor soon added to their tally when an attack which began from a break by Corrado, saw play move swiftly into Saffron Walden’s 22, here Rhodri Charles, on as a replacement for Sheppard, slipped through a gap before feeding the supporting Brown who had the pace to go over the line unchecked to score a seven point try, with 23 minutes played Manor led 51 – 12.

To their credit, Saffron Walden never gave up and went straight back on the attack taking play into Manors 22 where they stayed testing Manors defence, but Manor defended well where big hits from McKie and Alexander Clarke helped keep Manors line intact, but Saffron Walden continued to have the upper hand. From an attacking scrum close to Manors 22 they broke through the defence and looked to be heading to the line but a try saving tackle from Christopher Vickers then a timely intercept of the offload prevented another Saffron Walden score.

Manor continued to defend but were giving away too many penalties at the breakdown and this eventually lead to a yellow card for Matt Oaks for a number of team infringements. Saffron Walden now looked to make their numerical advantage tell and after another period of sustained pressure worked the ball out to the wing and where Luigi put in a thumping hit, but the ref deemed it to be a high tackle, yellow carded Luigi and awarded a penalty try to Saffron Walden. With the easy conversion taken the score moved to 51 – 19.

There was just time for the game to re-start and go through a couple of periods of play before the ref brought the game to an end.

Manor had run out comfortable winners and whilst credit must go the Saffron Walden for never giving up they were in the end comprehensively beaten, Manors forwards had the upper hand in most facets of the game and their backline looked sharp and dangerous with ball in hand. Next week will see a stern challenge when Manor make the long journey to North Walsham knowing that they will have to be at the top of their game to come away with a result.

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EM v Saffron Walden 04/03/2017
98 photos

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League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. Tring 26 118
2. Chingford 26 104
3. Brentwood 26 103
4. North Walsham 26 94
5. Eton Manor 26 85
6. Thurrock 26 70
7. Ruislip 26 59

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