Manor battle to victory over Fullerians
This weeks 1st team match report
Manor travelled to Fullerians to play their first game of 2018 hoping to build on their performances from the backend of 2017. They knew that they would meet a team that had a big, well drilled pack but knew if they could secure enough possession then their backline should win the game for them.
With Manor kicking off the match they competed and won the ball then after a series of forward drives the ball was fed along Manors line where fullback Elliott Brown took the ball at pace making good ground before passing out to Ollie Phillips on the wing, he left his man for dead make 25 meters before being bundled into touch, but the ref had been playing advantage for an offside. Manor opted for a shot at goal but with a swirling wind against them they were unsuccessful with the kick.
Fullerians now had a period of possession setting out their stall using their big forwards to try and punch holes in Manors defence, Manor stood firm but were being penalised by the ref for infringements at the breakdown, this allowed the hosts to maintain the pressure through a series of attacking lineouts. Still Fullerians ran at Manor but could not break through their defence, but another penalty, this time for offside, gave Fullerians the chance to open the scoring and from a shot at goal which they took a 3 - 0 after 6 minutes.
From the restart Manor attacked and again their backs attacked at a pace that Fullerians had trouble coping with, winger Michael Eghan looked back to his destructive best as he powered his way into Fullerians 22 before setting the ball up for Manor forwards to take on the charge, but possession was eventually lost allowing Fullerians to clear the danger.
Manors first score of the game came when Manor turned over possession at a ruck and launched a fast paced counter attack from half way. With the ball moving quickly along the backline Brown again joined in the attack this time with ball in hand he broke through a tackle then from 30 meters out had too much pace for the covering defence and went in at the corner. Nick Sheppard was successful with the touchline conversion and with 12 minutes played Manor had taken the lead 3 – 12.
Fullerians came back at Manor and again, although they defended against the oppositions powerful forward drives, Manor fell foul of the refs whistle on a number of occasions, this eventually led to Fullerians taking another successful shot at goal, this reduced the deficit to 6 – 7 after 20 minutes.
Manor competed and won the restart through Harry Reid and a good box kick by Nick Horton put Fullerians under pressure but they managed to work their way to halfway where a ruck was set up, here Ollie Waugh got over the ball and won Manor a penalty which Horton kicked deep into Fullerians 22. With the lineout secured Manor drove towards the line, but good initial defence slowed Manors attack. The ball was then fed along the backline where Rhys Davie-Horne stepped inside his man and headed towards the line, he was tackled 8 meters short but managed to pass out of the tackle to winger Phillips who, hugging the touchline, outpaced the defence and went in at the corner for Manors second try. Sheppard was unsuccessful with the touchline conversion but Manor had increased their lead to 6 – 12 after 25 minutes.
From the restart Fullarians used the slope and wind to their advantage and kept Manor pinned inside their own half. Again Manor defended well but were giving away too many penalties which allowed Fullerians to kick to touch and use their driving mauls from the lineouts to good effect. This eventually paid dividends when from such a move their forwards drove over for their first try of the match. The conversion was unsuccessful but Fullerians had reduced the deficit to 11 – 12.
With the half coming to an end both sides created half chances but were unable to take points from the opportunities created and as halftime came Manor held a slender 11 – 12 lead.
Fullerians kicked off the second half and despite playing against the elements had the better of possession and territory and soon took the lead when Manor were again penalised in front of their posts allowing any easy shot at goal taking Fullerians into a 14 – 12 lead.
From the restart Manor took the game to their hosts with good powerful running from Tom O’Connor and Michael Byrne before Callum Mckie pinned Fullerians inside their 22 with some accurate kicking from hand.
Manor were unable to capitalise on their possession and Fullerians eventually worked their way up field where again through their forwards they put pressure on Manors line and eventually crossed the line for another try. With the conversion good Fullerians had increased their lead to 21 – 12 after 10 minutes of the second half.
Manor came back at Fullerians and with Reece Reed on for Brown they continued to play at pace with Eghan, Reid and John Robinson all making good ground, but the Fullerians defence stood firm and wasn’t breached despite Manor getting close to the try line on a number of occasions. Manor continued to attack, Reed made a typical sniping break making 20 meters before linking up with winger Phillips who come into the middle of the park before being poleaxed by a tackle around the throat. The ref immediately brought play to a halt, and whilst the tackle could have resulted in a red card, the ref deemed that yellow was sufficient sending the Fullerians player to the bin for 10 minutes.
Manor saw their opportunity and took a quick tap penalty, Phillips himself drove towards the line but was stopped short, as was Brad Burrell, but with quick ball, Manor created space out wide for Eghan to race in at the corner for Manors third try. With Sheppard successful with the touchline conversion Manor had reduce the deficit to 21 – 19 after 22 minutes.
Manor didn’t have to wait long before creating their next scoring opportunity when they secured the re-start allowing Davis-Horne to send a long kick into Fullerians 22. Here they tried to run out of defence but Manors chase had been good and kept them pinned inside their 22 so to exit Fullerians sent up a box kick. This was fielded by Horton on the halfway line. Taking the ball at pace he ran towards the corner flag outpacing any defenders that got near to him, eventually diving over in the corner for a well taken try. Although Sheppard was unsuccessful with the conversion Manor had now retaken the lead 21 - 24 after 25 minutes.
Manor were now in the ascendency and with some powerful running by Waugh and Byrne they took play into Fullerians 22 where the home side won a lineout. Although Fullerians won the throw in and looked to have set up a maul, the ref called lineout over and Reid was quickest to react coming around and stripping the ball away from the Fullerians player, then from 15 meters out he broke a couple of tackles and dived over the line despite the attentions of the Fullerians fullback. With the conversion successful Manor had increased their lead to 21 – 31 with 30 minutes played.
From the restart Manor again secured the ball before feeding Davis-Horne who changed the direction of attack and fed the ball out to Eghan on his wing. From inside his own half Eghan set off up field, crashing through would be tacklers before swatting away another attempted tackle, he then accelerated away from the chasing defenders to run in at the corner for a fabulous solo try. With yet another successful conversion by Sheppard Manor now held a match winning lead 21 – 38 with a little over 7 minutes left to play.
Fullerians didn’t give up though and came back at Manor eventually scoring another try through their forwards closing the gap on the scoreboard to 28 – 38, and although they continued to press Manor did not give them the opportunity to score again with the contest ending in a well deserved 28 – 38 victory for Manor.
It had been a tough match and despite being under the cosh the Manor forwards fought hard and won enough quality possession to unleash their dangerous backline who played at a pace that Fullerians found difficult to live with. Next week Manor face third place Amersham and will have to up their game to beat this quality team.