Manor stutter to bonus point win
Manor welcomed Fullerians to the New Wilderness this week and although last season Manor had won both the games against them comfortably, it was evident from their unbeaten start to the season that Manor would be up against a much improved team. Yet again Manor fielded a changed squad with 6 changes from the side that were victorious at Ruislip.
Fullerians kicked off the match and Manor had the worst possible start when they knocked the ball on then picked it up from an offside position giving a penalty away within the first minute of the match, Fullerians successfully kicked at goal giving them an immediate lead 0 -3
Manor competed at the re-start winning the ball allowing Ollie Waugh to drive the ball up field, from here Manor attacked inside Fullerians 22 but were let down by some poor handling as they created opportunities to score but didn’t take them. Manor kept play in and around Fullerians 22 where they competed well at the breakdown and in the tight they held their own against a much larger pack, Reece Reed at scrum half was a thorn in the side of his opposite number disrupting the ball from the back of the scrum making it hard for the visitors to get good ball.
Fullerians were kicking long whenever they could to relieve the pressure, from one such kick Elliott Brown gathered the ball and using his pace outpace a number of would be tacklers before setting the ball up for Barney Newbury to drive the ball towards Fullerians 22, then after linking up with Nick Sheppard the ball was fed to flanker Waugh who crashed through some ineffectual tackles then from 20 meters out had the pace to out sprint the oppositions centre and fullback to go over in the corner to score Manors first try, although the touchline conversion was missed after 10 minutes Manor and taken the lead 5 – 3, it would be a lead that they would not relinquish.
Manor were still in the ascendency with their backline causing the visitors problems with the speed of their play and with Fredie Scobie running with ball in hand, making good ground each time he had the ball.
Fullerians themselves showed that they were an effective attacking team mainly using their big forwards to drive the ball up field where they remained inside Manors 22 but could not break through the hosts tight defences. Manor did eventually turn the ball over and launched a swift counter attack through their backline where Rhys Davis-Horne chose to kick the ball deep into Fullerians half. The chase was good and with the ball bouncing awkwardly, Davis-Horne was first to the ball knocking it back into the hands of the supporting Sheppard who from 25 meters out ran an angle to the try line scoring in the corner. Sheppard took the conversion himself which went just wide but after 35 minutes Manor had increased their lead to 10 – 3.
Manor continued to have the upper hand helped by strong runs by Newbury and Scobie but as play went on, influential centre Sheppard had to leave the pitch through injury to be replaced by Max Edmonton who normally plays a scrum half but had to fill in at centre.
Fullerians had the better of the final minutes of the half attacking inside Manors 22 but again could not break Manors line but were rewarded for their efforts with another penalty which took the score to 10 – 6 and that is how the first half ended.
The second half began with Manor still looking like the side most likely to score and their next score came from a Fullerians lineout. With Manor putting pressure on the visitors lineout they managed to turn the ball over allowing John Ewers to take the ball on before linking up with his backs, they moved the ball swiftly out to Scobie on the wing who from 30 meters out brushed aside a couple of tackles before out pacing the covering defence going over the line and behind the posts for Manors third try. Reed took on the kicking duties and added the extra points and after only 5 minutes of the second half Manor had increased their lead to 17 – 6.
Manor soon created another scoring opportunity when from a Fullerians attack Waugh turned over the ball at a ruck setting up his backline to launch an attack, Nick Horton saw space in behind the Fullerians defensive line and kicked the ball forward, chasing the ball into Fullerians 22 where he was first to the bobbling ball but was unable to gather it cleanly knocking it on, had he have gathered it he would have ran in unopposed for another score.
Manor now seemed to take their foot of the pedal which allowed Fullerians to get the upper hand and attack deep inside Manors territory, where after a number of concerted attacks by the visitors big forwards Manor eventually gave away another kickable penalty which brought the score to 17 – 9 after 10 minutes of the second half.
Manor still looked lethargic allowing Fullerians to assert themselves with most of the game now being played in Manors half, the hosts cause was not helped by Davis-Horne being shown a yellow card after Manor had given away a number of penalties. As Fullerians continued to enjoy the majority of possession and territory Manor were further hampered by the loss of another two backs, Edmonton and Brown, both to injuries that would keep them out of the rest of the game.
With Manor short of backs, Fullerians pressure finally paid off when after a series of forward drives from a scrum they moved the ball out wide and squeezed in at the corner for a try despite a last ditched tackle by Reed. The conversion for the touchline line was unsuccessful but Fullerians had got themselves back into the game at 17 – 14 and sensed victory with ten minutes of the game still to play.
From the kick off Manor began to wake up, now restored to full strength and with Sheppard fit enough to re-join the game Manor kept play inside Fullerians 22 and only good defence stopped Newbury from crossing the line after a bullocking run saw him stopped a foot short of the line. Manor recycled the ball but it was eventually turned over and kicked into touch by Fullerians. Manor won the lineout through Alfie Hutcherson and set up a driving maul taking the ball 20 meters up the pitch and into Fullerians 22, here the ball was fed out to Horton who executed a pre-planned move that saw Sheppard take a sublime attacking line that sliced through Fullerians defences taking him over the line and behind the posts, Manors celebrations were cut short as the ref had blown for a forward pass that no one else on the park from either side had seen and the try was disallowed.
Manor were still sloppy with their play with handling errors and poor passing handing the initiative back to their opponents, but eventually they did put together a number of good attacking phases of play taking play inside Fullerians 22. From here the visitors won possession and still looking for that winning score, ran the ball out of defence before trying to chip the ball over Manors defensive line, unfortunately for them the ball hit the back of Scobie, he reacted the quickest, turned and gathered the ball then used his pace to beat the covering defenders as he raced in behind the posts for Manors bonus point try. With Sheppard successful with the conversion Manor extended their lead to 24 – 14 with a few minutes left to play.
The final few minutes of the game mirrored what had gone on before with scrappy play by both sides before the ref blew for fulltime with Manor victorious 24 – 14.
Manor had achieved their first objective of a bonus point win, but in the huddle afterwards the players were disappointed by the performance knowing that they had not taken the scoring opportunities they had created but were all in agreement that the side was capable of producing a much better performance. With next weeks opposition currently unbeaten and lying second in the league they will have to put in a much improved display if they are to take away another sides unbeaten record.