A Tough Day at the Office (9th Sept.)

Old Redingensians 44, London Irish Wild Geese 16

With 11 players currently out injured, our second game of the season, away at Old Redingensians, was never going to be an easy one.  And so it turned out to be.

Our hosts opened the scoring after 6 minutes when they were awarded a penalty try for Irish collapsing an ORs scrum under heavy pressure. Our relatively young and inexperienced front 5 would struggle all afternoon against a much heavier opposition. Most of the play in the first 35 minutes was spent in Irish’s half with ORs sticking to a very forward-dominated game plan.  Irish defended well and had a number of forays into the ORs half and were rewarded with 2 penalties, both converted by Peter Hodgkinson.  ORs scored one themselves from another penalty infringement by the very much under pressure Irish scrum. The score at that point showed OR’s leading 10-6.

ORs kept playing their very tight game, dominating possession and territory.  Irish were somewhat unlucky after 37 minutes when trying to work the ball out of their own 22, they were penalised for crossing which the referee judged to be deliberate obstruction.  ORs kicked to the corner and from the resulting catch and drive and forward phases, their big no.4 Ollie Taylor went over.  The conversion attempt was unsuccessful and the score was 15-6.

Irish stayed focussed and intense and our backline always looked very dangerous with the ball in hand.  Just on half-time, with Irish inside the ORs 22, our no 13 Ben Kitching burst through the defensive line, but was stopped short of the line and with scrum half Chico U’Chung moving the ball wide from the resultant recycling, Irish No.10 Peter Hodgkinson went over for our first try which he converted himself.  The score at halftime was 15-13.  The consensus on the side-line was that if Irish could sort their scrum out for the second half, they had a real chance of winning this one.

ORs started the second half sticking to their tight 10-man game-plan.  Irish didn’t help themselves with three yellow cards in quick succession for Ben Kitching (tackle infringement), George Dean (scrum-related) and Peter Hodgkinson (dissent).  ORs were awarded another penalty try after 52 mins when our front row popped up under much pressure, which was where George Dean was carded.  Irish were now 25-16 down but maintained their intensity and kept ORs tied down in their own half with some nice running play.

What turned out to be a critical point in the game came after 55 minutes.  Irish were awarded a penalty, kicked to the corner and 4 or 5 phases after the resulting lineout, the ball was unluckily dropped when from the sideline it looked like we were a metre short.  A score at that point would have put us right back in the game with our backline continuing to excite when playing their running game.

From that point it was one-way traffic, with ORs pack continuing to dominate both in the tight and open play and Irish unable to maintain the intensity shown up to that point.  ORs ran in another three tries, converting two. Their last try was scored on 74 minutes with their first real backline movement in the game.  The final score was 44-16 to our hosts but it certainly didn’t feel they were a 28 points better team.

Our interim chairman John Walsh summed matters up after the match commenting that although it was a positive gutsy performance, it’s very difficult to win a game when your scrum is going backwards.

A disappointing result but much to look forward to when we are at full strength.