A win's a win despite a performace to forget.
This weeks Ist team match report
Manor visited bottom club South Woodham Ferrers (SWF) on the back of one of their best displays of the season in victory against Amersham. Unfortunately unavailability for various reasons meant that the Manor side showed 6 changes in the starting line up and three different replacements, that being said all the players had previous first team experience. Whilst Manor were victorious their performance was far below the standard that they normally achieve and some credit must go to the home side who put up an excellent defensive display.
With the weather deteriorating SWF kicked off the match but with the ball not going the required 10 meters a scrum was awarded. Here Manor had the upper hand driving their opponents backwards and winning a penalty which was kicked to touch for a lineout. Without a recognised hooker John Robinson was forced to take on the throwing in duties but his first effort was straight and true and gathered by Tom O’Connor at the back of the line. Manor drove the ball on and when the drive was halted the ball was moved along the backline where Peter Bicknell, returning to first team action after more than a year away, cut a sublime running line breaking through a number of attempted tackles before crashing through the last line of defence and going over for the opening score. Callum Mckie took on the kicking duties and after only four minutes Manor had taken a 0 – 7 lead.
As the game wore on SWF had a period of possession attacking inside Manors half where a clever kick ahead tested Manors defence, but Manor stood firm, eventually turning the ball over, then from his own goal line McKie launched a flowing counterattack linking up with Bicknell before the ball was fed out to Harry Bone on the wing. He set off at pace making 30 meters before chipping ahead taking play into SWF 22. Here Manor challenged for the ball but gave away a penalty bringing a promising attack to a halt.
Although SWF did attack Manor, they lacked the penetration to break through and it was Manor who created the next scoring opportunity when Elliott Brown joined in the attack from fullback, evading a number of tackles before linking up with Michael Byrne who drove towards the try line only to be brought down a couple of meters short. Manor quickly recycled the ball but a knock on by SWF stopped a potential try scoring opportunity. The ref awarded a scrum and not a penalty, Bobby Grace picked up from the base and drove towards the line, he drove over the line and just when it looked like he had grounded the ball to score, excellent last ditched defence just prevented him from getting the ball down and drove him back into play, Manor again recycled the ball but a knock on in the midfield stopped their attack and with 20 minutes played the score remained 0 – 7.
The game was very disjointed with both sides unable to hang onto a slippery ball and when Manor did string together phases of play moves often broke down as players were still getting used to playing together.
Manor created the next scoring opportunity when from an attacking lineout Manor drove the ball on and as the maul broke up Harry Reid drove over the line but the ref deemed that the ball had not been grounded and awarded Manor an attacking scrum. With the ball again secured it was moved along the backline where another handling error brought the attack to a halt.
Eventually Manor did get the score that their dominance deserved, with the forwards again making good ground inside SWF 22 with Reid and Byrne taking the ball on before it was move out to prop Brad Burrell who took it at pace and drove forwards taking a number of defenders with him over the line to score Manors second try. With McKie again successful with the conversion after 30 minutes Manor doubled their lead to 0 – 14.
SWF hit back at Manor and after a number of driving runs they won a penalty in front of goal but some 30 meters out. The kicker hit the ball straight but against a strong wind it just fell short. With time to take the 22 drop out Manor kicked long and tried to build up another attack but time was up and the ref brought the first half to a close with Manor holding a disappointing 0 – 14 lead.
Manor kicked off the second half and both sides had difficulty in holding onto the ball. From a scrum awarded after SWF knocked the ball on, Manor drove their counterparts back 10 meters before the ref awarded a penalty. From 25 meters out McKie put the ball between the posts to increase Manors lead to 0 - 17 after 3 minutes of the second half.
SWF now had a sustained period of pressure attacking inside Manors half and with the aid of a couple of penalties worked their way deep into Manors 22 where Rhys Davis-Horne was yellow carded for a number of team offences. SWF continued to attack Manors line, but couldn’t break through Manors defences and eventually Manors aggressive defence brought about a knock on from SWF allowing Manor to clear the danger.
SWF again went on the attack and with Manor giving away another penalty the hosts opted for a shot at goal, but this was missed.
Manor began to take back control of the game and the team numbers were soon evened up when the SWF openside was yellow carded for an offence at the break down.
The game became a very scrappy affair and although Manor were the dominant team, SWF defended stoutly and forced Manor into making a number of handling errors which stopped them increasing their lead. With most of the remainder of the match being played in SWF’s half Manor looked like the team most likely to score but good defending coupled with poor play from Manor ensured that there were no further scores and eventually the ref brought to a conclusion what was a very dour and disappointing match with Manor victorious 0 – 17.
The conditions throughout the match were poor but the pitch remained in remarkedly good condition. Manors display was very disjointed and failed to reach the heights of last weeks game. SWF played an excellent defensive game and will hope to build on their performance. As for Manor, next week at home they will face a much sterner test in the form of Diss who Manor beat away earlier in the season. Diss will bring a different type of game and Manor know the sort of game plan that they will have to employ to ensure success.