UELSports Men’s Rugby, 1st Team
UEL win to put themselves within a whisker of promotion and 1 win away from the league title.
UEL secured a dramatic win with a try in the last minute of tough game against main title rivals Anglia Ruskin.
Anglia Ruskin started the brightest with an aggressive attitude in the opening ten minutes winning the collisions at the ruck. This paid dividends as the clean possession they enjoyed allowed them to play their quick running style of rugby and got them on the scoreboard with a try in the corner. 0-5.
This was to be an early wake up call to UEL who themselves upped their aggression to match and found themselves with most of the possession and territory for the rest of the half. This led to ARU conceding a number of penalties one of which led to a UEL lineout on the ARU 22. A lineout move straight off the training park saw Eoin coast in untouched to make the game 5-5.
UEL continued to apply the pressure by dominating the scrum against a much larger pack which provided a solid platform for UEL to attack from. The line-out also functioned superbly in attack and UEL nearly found themselves in front with a try from Kier on the wing, which was unfortunately and rather harshly ruled out as the ref deemed Kier to have had a foot in touch giving Ruskin a chance to clear their lines.
A mistake from UEL in attack allowed ARU a rare forage into the UEL 22. A well organised and effective line-out drive from Ruskin had UEL’s defence under the cosh, but they held firm to hold the ball up over the line. Despite this big defensive effort, Ruskin managed to capitalise on a UEL error to score 5-10.
UEL weren’t to be outdone and again piled on the pressure and a neatly worked move after a number of phases saw captain Lewis Davy, making his UEL debut at full-back, dot down in the corner on the stroke of half-time. 10-10.
Anglia Ruskin started the second half the stronger and spent a lot of time in the UEL 22. UEL’s cause wasn’t helped by Kier Williams aggravating an old hip injury and needing to be replaced by Jonathan Dapson.
ARU continued to use their line-out as an attacking weapon, but a shuffle in the UEL line saw this threat reduced significantly. On one of these occasions, Ruskin’s knock-on led to a UEL scrum inside the UEL 22. Poor communication between UEL’s scrum-half and hooker led to the ball being turned against the head and ARU’s third try. 10-15. Jim was knocked out in his defensive effort and was replaced by Mo who went to full-back with Lewis slotting into the out-half position.
This try was like a red rag to a bull for UEL who came out all guns blazing from the re-start, Rahul making a great leap to win the ball back. As UEL piled on the pressure the Ruskin players started to feel the heat and indiscipline set in, leading to a number of penalties. Pierre took a knock and had to be replaced by Leigh Linney.
UEL were camped in the Ruskin 22 at this stage and with 10 minutes left Rahul slotted a penalty to set up a grand stand finish, 13-15.
More ill discipline from ARU on the half way line led to a penalty which Mike Smith took quickly only to be tackled by an offside player who made no effort to get onside and received a yellow card as a result, advantage UEL.
The East Enders had all the possession and territory and a superb line-out and scrum operation helped to turn the screw. A UEL line-out on the Ruskin 10-metre line led to a massive drive with UEL getting all the way to 5 metres from the ARU try line before the maul collapsed, the ref deemed this to have been an accident and UEL had a scrum. A number of phases led to yet another UEL penalty, which would have put UEL a point in front with 4 minutes left to go, but Rahul pushed the ball agonisingly wide which appeared to dash UEL’s dreams of promotion and a league title.
But UEL showed great character and didn’t allow this to get them down and with a minute remaining a UEL drive led to a penalty advantage for hands in the ruck right in front of the posts. Although Mike was screaming for a the ball to go to Rahul for what would have been a winning drop goal, the ball was spun wide to Lewis who drew his man and passed the ball onto an unmarked Samuel, who in dramatic fashion, juggled the ball before scoring right in the corner to send UEL and their considerable home crowd delirious. 18-15.
There was just enough time for a re-start which Mo had the honour of collecting before putting the ball safely into touch for the final whistle, sparking the biggest celebration UEL Rugby has seen.
It was a great effort from UEL, and despite conceding 3 tries, their defence was immense and but for some basic errors they would have kept the score-line lower. With a complicated, tight finish to the season, the news that Bart’s had lost their final game to Brighton means that UEL are now joint top with Bart’s but have a game next week to finish the season and win the league. Despite the celebrations, UEL know that the job isn’t done yet and they need a win next week to confirm their first ever league title.
Man of the match: Luke (as part of an awesome forwards effort)
Try of the Match: Eoin Smaill
Tackle of the Match: Jonathan Dapson
Mug of the Match: Liam Twomey (for making a great run from a tap and go only to pass the ball to a ARU player)
1. Luke Staples-Preston, 2. Liam Twomey, 3. Alli Dodds, 4. Dwain McGuinness, 5. Nathan Hubbard, 6. Brice Dempster, 7. Pierre Wedja, 8. Eoin Smaill, 9. Michael Smith, 10. Jim Rossiter, 11. Samuel Green, 12. Jake Turbett, 13. Rahul Gurang, 14. Kier Williams, 15. Lewis Davy; 16. Leigh Linney, 17. Olie Harrington, 18. Muhammed Akbar, 19. Jonathan Dapson.