Fantastic Finale to Eagles Season
Effingham & Leatherhead played host to fellow relegation survivors Eastleigh at Browns Lane on Saturday, in an end-of-season showdown with only bragging rights at stake. Both sides safe in the league, enjoyed a competitive battle in the best weather of the season.
Being their last home game and with the possibility of Eastleigh leapfrogging them in the league, Eagles were a little more fired up for the match and this showed in the early exchanges. Man-of-the-match Luke Collier was immediately a thorn in Eastleigh’s side, carrying the ball hard into their defence and often needing more than one player to tackle him. This constant pressure created offload opportunities for the Eagles and after yet another foray deep into Eastleigh’s half, Collier himself was on hand to power over from an offload from skipper Jamie Thompson. The was converted by Ben Lines to go 7 – 0. A further Lines penalty took it to 10-0 before prop Joe Baker picked up a score for himself, which was again converted to take the score to 17-0.
With half-time fast approaching and Eagles on the attack, Eastleigh needed to pull something out to get back in the game. A mistake by Eagles saw the Eastleigh winger race half the pitch and set up a ruck. The Eastleigh forwards sensing a try, reverted to their pick and go routine and on the stroke of half-time managed to drive over for a converted try. 17-7 at the break.
Roused by their try, Eastleigh started the second half brightly and fully utilised their giant prop to power up the pitch. Again, they camped on the Eagles line and despite the valiant defence managed to get over again for another converted try and get back in the game 17-14. Eagles nerves were beginning to show as an upset started to look on the cards and this was made worse with a penalty and yellow card for Eagles and the penalty kick levelling the game at 17-17.
As with so many times in the latter part of the season, having let their opposition back into the game, Eagles come back to life with a bang. Suddenly they started to pass the ball quickly and freely, not throwing loose offloads and playing with direction and conviction in the game plan. With clever interplay between forwards and back and stretching the Eastleigh defence, Eagles started making overlaps at will. Eagles winger Robert Ellis was the first to benefit, running in a well worked try to take the score to 22-17. He almost immediately followed this with another score following a very cheeky flip pass from Lines to secure the 4th Eagles try and the bonus point. Another conversion took the score to 29-17.
Eagles were now rampant and enjoying their unrivalled possession. As the tackle count was rising and Eastleigh beginning to fall off tackles, it was centre Ben Lines who was next to cross the line to take the score to 34-17. Eagles final try was scored by their other winger Joe Triegaardt following yet another slick backline move with Joe picking up a last gasp flick pass to dive over in the corner. The final score was 39-17.
Head coach Dan Blythe said, “Today was yet another example of just how well our lads can play when they follow the game plan. They can be frustrating for a half and exhilarating in the other, but the true mark of this team is their spirit and camaraderie.” Blythe added, ” When I rejoined the team at the end of November, they were bottom of the league with only 10 points. Their transformation since then has been remarkable. To achieve 8th place and get to 50 points demonstrates how good these guys can be when they put their minds to it. It has been a pleasure to be part of this Eagles team again and I wish them every success next season.”
1. Sam Maycock
2. Patrick McDougall
3. Joe Baker
4. Peter Sockett
5. Ollie Rees
6. Luke Collier
7. Jamie Thompson
8. Ben Lazaravic
9. Matt Manning
10. Brian Collins
11. Joe Triegaardt
12. Ben Lines
13. Antony Penny
14. Robert Ellis
15. Ed Waugh
16. Joe Forestier-Walker
17. Rob Denham
18. Dougie Churnside
|14/04/2018||3:00 pm||London 2 South West||2017-2018||80'|
|Eagles Senior 1XV||6||39||Win|
|Eastleigh RFC Senior 1XV||2||17||Loss|
|Effingham & Leatherhead RFC|
|Browns Ln, Effingham, Leatherhead KT24, UK|