Manor leave it late to earn dramatic win against Barking
12:00 25 January 2015
London One North: Eton Manor 19 Barking 16
A try from Reece Reed during the final play of the game earned Eton Manor a thrilling three-point victory over local rivals Barking yesterday in the only game played this weekend in the London One North.
The New Wilderness crowd were treated to a tense contest with the away side leading throughout, until that dramatic final play of the game.
Steve Wagstaff’s team performed excellently and were 7-16 ahead before Manor responded brilliantly to earn the win and cut Colchester’s lead at the top of the table to three points.
The away side began with great intent and Sam John was making his physical presence felt as he was in the thick of the action inside the opening exchanges.
Barking enjoyed the better territory during the opening 10 minutes and forced the host to defend their line.
But it wasn’t long before that defence was beaten as the visitors scored the opening points of the afternoon following a flowing move involving their backs.
Sam Randle was the man to finish off the play, side-stepping inside his Manor opponent before crossing the line.
Craig Ratford made no mistake with the conversion and Wagstaff’s team had a 7-0 advantage.
Although the hosts looked to respond they were making too many handling errors and Barking’s forwards were dominating.
Manor’s error-strewn first half continued when they conceded another penalty and this allowed Ratford to put the second-placed team 10 points down.
This appeared to waken the New Wilderness outfit, though, who were looking to keep up their 16-month record of not tasting defeat on home soil.
Slowly they came back into the half and a great run by Callum McKie instigated a move which resulted in Pete Bicknell reduced the deficit.
McKie showed great pace and burst past a couple Barking players before feeding Bicknell, who squeezed through a gap to score Manor’s first try of the afternoon.
But after McKie added the extras, the hosts gave away a cheap penalty to lose the momentum they had built.
Ratford duly obliged to convert the penalty and give Barking a 7-13 lead and that was how it remained until the break.
The away team won another penalty at the start of the second half, but Ratford was unable to get a clean enough connection.
However, the next time Barking were awarded another chance to extend their lead, the fly-half did not miss.
Ratford converted with his fourth successful kick of the afternoon to give Wagstaff’s team a nine-point lead.
There was a long time remaining in the second period, though, but the away team were well worth their lead thus far.
Manor needed to find a responce and immediately from the restart began to put pressure on the Barking defence.
To the visitors credit, they held firm despite the home team now being camped in their half and defended superbly.
Connors team were creating opportunities, but making too many mistakes – like they did during the first period. But the pressure was beginning to become relentless and Manor finally got their second try of the afternoon through Michael Eghan.
A great run and carry by Bicknell put Barking on the back foot and replacement Reed picked out Eghan, who stormed past a couple of opposing players before crossing the line.
McKie kicked the conversion to make 14-16 to the away side and give Connors side a fighting chance of getting a victory.
Almost immediately after Eghan’s try he was involved in a fracas with Barking’s Callum Gardner and the pair were both shown yellow cards.
The harsh sin-bin decision by the referee damaged Manor’s attacking options, but they were fired up now with Reed’s role becoming more and more prominent.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes Bicknell went close to getting his second try, but Barking defended brilliantly and held him up before the line.
Wagstaff’s team were under intense pressure, but were coping admirably and looked like holding on for the victory.
Barking had been the more dominant in the scrum, but in the dying stages Manor turned the scrum for the first time.
Although they couldn’t make the most of that chance, the next scrum that was called resulted in the thrilling finale.
In the last play of the game Manors forwards battled brilliantly and Reed showed great initiative to make the most of an opportunity presented to him.
The replacement spun round on the blindside before showing supreme agility to sprint away from his rivals and cross the line to spark wild celebrations from the home team.
It was a stunning piece of rugby from Reed, though Barking weren’t happy with the referee and felt Manor had been guilty of holding in the scrum.
However the try stood and although the hosts had won, McKie was given the opportunity to add the extras.
His resulting kick missed, but it wasn’t to matter as the final whistle blew immediately afterwards to give Manor a dramatic late victory.
They had trailed for the majority of the game and showed phenomenal character and belief to come back and seal a 16th win of the campaign.
Manor’s win closes the gap at the top of the table to three points, whilst Barking remain in fifth position after picking up a losing bonus point.
Although Wagstaff’s side were disappointed to suffer defeat, they could take solace from their performance in a superb advert for London One North rugby.
Eton Manor: D Horton, Clarke, Permale, Robinson, Cooper-Hicks, Henna, K Reed, Hicker, N Horton, McKie, Lockyer, Knowles, Bicknell, Eghan, Jones.
Replacements: R Reed, Moore, Tovey.
Barking: Saunders, Bowls, John, O’Toole, D Ox, Bennett, J Ox, Touma, Baker, Ratford, Randle, Clark, Wright, Bateman, Barham.
Replacement: Hughes, Hayes, Gardner.