An impressive run of four consecutive wins came to a frustrating end on Saturday, as the First XV fell just short to a formidable Old Freemens side at Coombe Lane.
Starting the game two points behind joint-top Freemens in the league table, the boys knew they had a huge challenge in front of them at the first whistle. But the opening exchanges proved they were more than up for that challenge, as the OWs were the brighter of the two sides initially.
In particular, star backs John Curri and Jason Murphy used their pace to carve through the visitors’ defence inside the first 10 minutes. The exciting move was just a warning shot, though, as it didn’t amount to any points, but it would've certainly been worthy of a try on another day.
Despite that strong start, the two teams were very closely matched and the score reflected that by remaining 0-0 for the first 30 minutes.
Eventually, Freemens got their own chance to attack and they were able to make it count. After some outstanding defending on our own five-metre line for an extended period, the away side’s sustained pressure proved too much to hold off. The first try of the match went to Freemens, converted by their kicker to give them a 7-0 lead.
Soon after, some of our own good work returned valuable points as well, with centre Matt Laventure slotting a penalty which brought the score to 7-3 at half-time.
When play resumed, so too did the tremendous effort from the OWs, but Freemens were able to score the first points of the second half too. Their second try did come against the run of play, but it was still a demonstration of excellent handling skills to move the ball wide and touch down in the corner. This time, a missed conversion left the score at 12-3.
As the game entered its final period, we were finally able to make our way over the visitors’ goal line thanks to a snipe from Captain James Howell. Unfortunately, however, the referee decided to rule the attempt as held up and disallowed the try.
A late penalty from Freemens would prove to be the final nail in the coffin, and the game finished 15-3 to the away side.
This was a disappointing result, as everyone involved would’ve felt we deserved more from the encounter, but there were plenty of positives to take away. The commitment shown by all 18 players for the full 80 minutes was fantastic, and two forwards who put in immense performances were prop Believe Munshie and flanker Jay Quinn.
Following this narrow loss we've slipped one place down the league table, now sitting fourth just one point below Chipstead. The next league fixture will take place on Saturday, November 27, at home to Economicals, where the boys will be eager to return to winning ways.
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