Poor discipline costs Manor victory at Chingford
Manor travelled to league leaders Chingford this week, again with a changed side from last weeks victory. Manor knew that it would be difficult to beat a side that were unbeaten at home and had only lost one match all season. At the beginning of the season Chingford had comfortably beaten Manor, but this game was different and it is one that, if it hadn’t been for Manors poor discipline that saw them play 30 minutes of the game a man down, they would have and deserved to have won.
Chingford kicked off the match and the pattern of the match soon took shape with Chingford having the lions share of possession using their big ball carries to try and smash their way through Manors defence. But the visitors were in no mood to roll over and knocked their bigger opponents back in the tackle and competed furiously at the breakdown.
Manor were creating attacking opportunities themselves, with Reece Reed in particular looking sharp, breaking from the back of a scrum inside Manors half using his pace to take play 30 meters upfield into Chingford’s 22, but as the ball was recycled from a ruck it was knocked on bringing Manors first attack to an end.
Chingford gradually worked their way back upfield and after giving away a couple of needless penalties Manor soon found themselves behind on the scoreboard when a successful shot at goal took Chingford into a 3 – 0 lead after 7 minutes.
Manor were soon back under pressure when the restart went directly into touch giving Chingford a scrum on halfway. Here Manor put their much larger opponents under pressure but Chingford managed to release their backline to take play close to Manors 22 until the ball went into touch. With Manor throwing in at the lineout the ref was going to award a penalty for foul play to Manor but he spotted some retaliation by Frank Sullivan, he sent Sullivan and the Chingford second row to the bin and reversed the penalty which Chingford chose to kick for a line out. Luckily for Manor the throw in wasn’t straight allowing Manor to clear the danger.
Although defending, Manor did not look like a team under pressure, their defensive line was solid and after a series of big hits, notably by George Harman and Ollie Waugh, Manor won a penalty which they kicked into Chingford’s half. From the lineout, Harry Reid secured the ball and Manor set up a rolling maul taking play deep inside Chingford’s 22, here John Ewers broke off the back of the maul and charged towards the line, but was stopped a number of metres short, with Chingford killing the ball the ref didn’t take too kindly to Reed asking for a penalty and gave one to Chingford instead for dissent.
Manor were now growing as an attacking force, with Garth Tucker looking sharp and dangerous from the base of the scrum and Callum Mckie and Nick Horton kicking intelligently pinning the hosts back into their half.
Manor soon registered their first points of the match from a scrum inside Chingford’s 22. The Manor pack got the nudge on and drove their opposition back a short way, this allowed Reed to move into the backline and for Tucker to pick up from the base of the scrum. He fed the ball to Reed who in turn passed to McKie who looked to take the ball back towards his forwards, but as he moved towards his pack Luigi Martelletti came off his wing and again changed the direction of attack taking the ball at pace, wrong footing the Chingford midfield then outpacing the covering defence to go over the line for Manors first try. With Manors normal goalkicker Nick Sheppard unavailable for this match, Harman took on the kicking duties and duly added the extra points. 27 minutes of the half had been played and Manor now led 3 – 7.
It wasn’t long though before Chingford reduced the deficit, when after repelling a series of attacks Manor were again penalised, this time for a high tackle, this allowed the hosts to kick another successful penalty and bring the score to 6 – 7 after 29 minutes.
Things didn’t improve for Manor when the restart again went directly into touch, this allowed Chingford to mount another attack from halfway. Manor again defended well and Chingford looked lost for ideas as they could not break through Manors defence, but just when it looked like the attack was petering out, Manor again gave away a stupid penalty, this time in front of the posts which Chingford again converted into points retaking the lead after 33 minutes 9 – 7.
Manor went on the offensive pressurising the kick off eventually turning the ball over then driving into Chingford’s 22. Here it was the hosts turn to fall foul of the refs whistle allowing Harman to restore Manors lead from a penalty, 9 – 10 after 36 minutes.
With the half coming to an end, Chingford again attacked Manor, but as before they did not look like breaking through, but ill-discipline at the breakdown resulted in Ewers being yellow carded and Chingford retaking the lead through a penalty and as it was the last kick of the half, Chingford went into halftime with a slender 12 – 10 lead.
With Manor kicking off the second half the first few minutes saw Chingford with possession but strong defence by Manor made sure that there was no way through for Chingford who eventually were pressurised into knocking the ball on. From the scrum on Manors 10 meter line, Reed darted down the large blind side then fed the supporting Michael Eghan who powered his way into Chingford’s 22 before being brought to ground and winning a penalty. Manor kicked for a lineout which Alfie Hutcherson won but before Manor could set up a driving maul Chingford came in offside and killed the ball giving Manor another penalty. Harman took a shot at goal from out wide which missed it’s target, but because a Chingford player had charged the kick, the ref ruled that the penalty had to be re-taken. This time Harman made no mistake and after 10 minutes of the second half Manor had re-taken the lead 12 – 13.
Manor were now winning more than their fair share of the ball and again good kicking by both McKie and Horton meant that Chingford had to build their attacks from deep inside their half, Manor were still tackling hard and another big hit, this time from Moe Alotham gave Manor a scrum inside their half. Again Reed broke from the back of the scrum, this time feeding Martelletti on his wing, he set off stepping inside his man then showed a clear pair of heels to the chasing Chingford players until he reached the 22 where a high tackle stopped him in his tracks. Harman stepped up for a shot at goal again from out wide, but his attempt went wide and in the end would prove a costly miss.
From the 22 restart Chingford kicked deep into Manors half where the ball was collected by Reed, he set off on a counter attack and after taking play into Chingford’s half he again linked up with Martelletti who proved difficult to stop taking play into Chingford’s 22 where he won another penalty. Harman took another shot at goal from almost the same place as before, unfortunately with the same result of a missed opportunity to increase Manors lead.
Although Manor were having the better of things, one lapse in concentration allowed Chingford’s centre to break through Manors previously impervious defensive line and launch a flowing attack that saw play move swiftly into Manors 22. Here Manors back peddling defences regrouped and appeared to have stopped the attack, but the ref deemed that the attack had been stopped illegally and awarded a penalty try, although he did not send anyone to the sin bin which would have been normal if a certain scoring opportunity had been illegally stopped by a player. With a penalty try now worth 7 points Chingford had again retaken the lead 19 – 13 after 25 minutes.
Manor went straight back on the attack, Chingford gave away a couple of penalties as they tried to contain Manors relentless attacks. From one penalty the ball was kicked into Chingford’s 22 for an attacking lineout. With Hutcherson winning the throw in Manor drove towards the line, but this was stopped 6 meters short, Brad Burrell drove off the back and after drives by him and Waugh, Reed got hold of the ball and set off towards his backline only to pop the ball behind him for the charging John Robertson to gather and dive over the line for Manors second try of the match. The conversion was quite close to the posts but the normally reliable Harman couldn’t find the accuracy that would have put Manor back into the lead. Instead with 10 minutes left to play Manor still trailed 19 – 18.
Chingford did have an opportunity to put the game beyond Manor when their flyhalf saw a large gap in behind Manors defence and he sent a very well directed kick into Manors 22 for his winger to chase. At the time of the kick the Chingford winger was a couple of meters off side, but this was not spotted by the ref, and he won the race to the bouncing ball. Luckily for Manor Reed had spotted the danger and had covered the width of the pitch to stop the Chingford winger from a potential score with a big hit on him, but the ref deemed that Reed had fouled the player and sent him to the bin. Manor would now have to play the remainder of the game a man short.
Chingford tried to make their extra man count and pounded away at Manors line, but a massive defensive effort from all the Manor players made sure that Chingford did not cross their try line and eventually Manor won a penalty. From deep inside his 22 Horton launched a counter attack with both Eghan and Martelletti making good ground, but Chingford defended well and the match came to a conclusion when Chingford knocked the ball on close to their 22 and with no time for the scrum Manor had lost the game 19 – 18.
Manor had come to the home of the league leaders and were within a whisker of beating them. Whilst the missed kicks at goal certainly didn’t help Manors cause, ultimately it was Manors penalty count that lost them the game. Chingford did not cross Manors line and score a try, all their points came from Manor giving away penalties and ill-discipline, that combined with playing for almost 30 minutes of the game a man less than their opponents, was the reason that Manor did not win. The players themselves gave their all and providing they can continue to produce this level of performance then they can look forward to the New Year with renewed confidence.