Manor magnificent in the mud with victory over Amersham.
This weeks 1st team match report
Manor welcomed Amersham & Chiltern to the New Wilderness this week looking to avenge a narrow defeat earlier in the season. With the bad weather taking a toil on the pitches the game was played on the second team pitch which by the end of the match had cut up quite badly, in the end the result came down to the team who played the conditions the better and in this area Manor were the superior side and deservedly won the game.
Amersham kicked off the match and had the majority of possession choosing to keep ball in hand running at Manors defence. It was obvious from the outset that Manor were up for the challenge as their defensive line speed was excellent giving the dangerous Amersham attack no room to work in and eventually Manors hard tackling brought the first handling error by the visitors and the first scrum of the match. In the first fixture the Amersham scrum had dominance over Manor, but this week was different when at the first scrum Manor drove their counterparts backwards winning the first of numerous penalties at the scrum.
Manor now began to take control of the game with some great kicking out of hand from Callum Mckie and Rhys Davis-Horne keeping Amersham pinned in their half. From an Amersham lineout 30 meters from their line Alfie Hutcherson stole the throw in allowing Manors backs to drive the ball on before linking with the forwards where Brad Burrell, who had his best game in a Manor shirt, took on the charge before winning a penalty. From 20 meters out Nick Sheppard stepped up and steered the ball between the posts giving Manor a 3 – 0 lead after 8 minutes.
With the conditions worsening both sides were having difficulty holding onto the ball, but Manor were still playing the majority of the game inside their opponent’s half and with dominance in the set piece the Manor forwards were on top denying Amersham any quality possession.
Manors dominance was eventually rewarded when after a series of drives from Hutcherson, Waugh and Bobby Grace the ball was fed to Frank Sullivan who drove forwards before going to ground 10 meters from the line, here Amersham were again penalised giving Sheppard the opportunity to double Manors lead, which he did, with 25 minutes of the game gone Manor led 6 – 0.
From the restart Amersham had a period of possession and territory but were finding it difficult to break into Manors 22, again Manors aggressive defence nullified any danger and eventually forced Amersham into another mistake, with a scrum awarded Manor again drove their opposition backwards winning another penalty.
The game continued with Manor having the upper hand but the hosts had to make a change when winger Ollie Phillips had to leave the field after a heavy challenge to be replace by Reece Reed.
Manor were playing most of the game around Amersham’s 22 now and with the first half drawing to a close they won yet another penalty at the scrum. Manor opted to take another scrum as they were 15 meters from the try line. With the ball secured Manor drove Amersham backwards and with the ref playing yet another penalty advantage, Grace drove off the back of the scrum before being brought down a few meters short of the line. Harry Reid gathered the ball and drove to the line dotting the ball down on the line and despite the loud protests from the visitors claiming a knock on the ref awarded the try. Sheppard missed the conversion but as half time came Manor held an 11 – 0 lead.
With the second half underway Amersham began the stronger of the two sides keeping the ball and working their way towards Manor’s 22. It was now Manors turn to give away a couple of penalties from which Amersham took the opportunity to register some points when their kicker struck the ball between the posts from 25 meters out. After 5 minutes of the second half the deficit had been reduced to 11 – 3.
The score seemed to re-focus Manor who were soon back on the attack through Michael Eghan who fielded a high kick before taking the ball up the middle of the park then linked up with Horton who pinned Amersham back into their 22 with a clever grubber kick.
Manor continued to keep the pressure on, after a good line break by Sheppard who then linked up with Burrell and Hutcherson who both made the hard yards, Amersham gave away yet another penalty and the ref finally lost patience and sent their centre to the bin for 10 minutes.
From the penalty Manor kicked for an attacking lineout inside Amersham’s 22. With Hutcherson catching the ball Manor set up a driving maul that got within 8 meters of the line before the drive was stopped, but Michael Byrne had the ball in his hands and powered off the back of the maul and despite having two defenders hanging around his neck showed great strength in crossing the line and scoring his first try for Manor. With Sheppard successful with the conversion Manor had stretched their lead to 18 – 3 after 12 minutes of the second half.
With conditions worsening Manor still controlled the game and looked like the team most likely to score again. From another Amersham knock on Reed played good advantage beating a couple of players whilst taking the ball in field before sending a long pass out to Elliott Brown who had joined in the attack, he used his pace to dart along the touchline before he chipped the ball over the last defender but was unlucky to see the ball bounce into touch as he tried to gather with the try line beckoning.
Amersham were still in the game and looked dangerous when they kept ball in hand, but Manors defensive line speed was giving the visitors very little time on the ball and forced them into making a number of handling errors.
Eventually Manor worked their way backup field with a move that started with a break through the middle of a ruck by John Robinson who charged up the park making 20 meters before being brought to ground, then after a couple of short drives Reed again sent out a long pass to Brown who motored down the wing only to be bundled into touch 10 meters short of the line.
Manors final score came from an attacking lineout inside Amersham’s 22, second half substitute Tom O’Connor gathered the throw in which allowed Manors forwards to drive in field before Robinson gained possession 10 meters from the line, he broke through the attempted tackles of two players then charged for the line, as he got close he had four defenders trying to stop him scoring, but with the close support of O’Connor he managed drive forward and although it looked like he had been stopped just short, he managed to force the ball onto the line and score an excellent try. Sheppard was successful with the conversion and with a little more than 5 minutes left to play Manor now held a match winning lead 25 – 3.
The final few minutes of the game were played out inside Manors half with Amersham in possession, still trying to pierce Manors defensive line, but Manor would not let up from their superb defensive display, knocking their opposite number back in the tackle and the game was finally brought to a close when Manors pressure brought about another knock on.
Amersham were a quality outfit and had only lost 2 games all season, but Manor adapted better to the deteriorating playing conditions. With the pack, led by the front row of Robinson, Ewers and Burrell, winning the battle up front and with some intelligent kicking from hand, Manor controlled large parts of the game. Amersham did not look like scoring a try all match and this was a credit to Manors defensive wall. This was one of Manors best performances for a long time and this should give them confidence when they travel to the bottom club South Woodham Ferrers who will be a dangerous opponent as they fight for league survival.