Connors confident Manor can make forward strides
PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 February 2016
New Wilderness side suffered a frustrating loss at Gravesend on Saturday
Eton Manor head coach Jamie Connors wants to see his side get more joy in the scrum this weekend when they visit Wimbledon in the National League Three South.
Last weekend they made the trip to Gravesend and suffered a 26-15 loss after struggling to deal with the hosts big forwards.
It was a 19th consecutive defeat for the New Wilderness outfit, but they will travel to south London with some confidence.
The previous meeting back on November 7 resulted in Wimbledon winning 12-10, but Connors men gifted their opponents two tries.
Manor haven’t picked up many points since that encounter, but Saturday’s hosts are currently on an eight-game run without success.
Connors said: “It was close before and we are probably going from playing the best scrum in the league in Gravesend to one we put under a lot of pressure at our place.
“We were literally walking Wimbledon off the ball. They like to attack and throw the ball around a lot, but we managed to block that off last time.
“There is no reason why we can’t be competitive with them again. I didn’t see anything overly impressive from them before. They are a bit like us so hopefully we can get on top of them up front and see how we get on.”
Unfortunately Manor could be without Ben Thomas for the foreseeable future after their injury curse struck at Gravesend.
Thomas, who has only come back this season following knee reconstruction, was forced off at the weekend.
“Ben suffered a serious injury to his knee,” added Connors. “It is the same one as before so he is going for an MRI scan this week. That doesn’t look great.
“We do have Jonathan Kopra available, though, so that is another tight-head prop. Alex Hunter will come in for Ben and other than that we have a similar looking squad to what we had against Gravesend.”
Manor come away from Kent deflated on Saturday after a frustrating afternoon.
Luigi Martelletti scored the opening try of the match at Rectory Field, before Thomas added the extras to put Connors men 7-0 up.
But Gravesend’s forwards soon took control of proceedings and by half time, the visitors trailed 19-10 despite a successful penalty from Thomas.
It was a lead the Kent outfit were never going to let slip away, despite early pressure by Manor at the start of the second period.
Gravesend managed to add another score before Martelletti crossed over again, but it was a mere consolation.
Connors added: “We got the first try, but we struggled to look after the ball for the rest of half and they finished it well by getting another score.
“We came out for the second and had a lot more of the ball, they were giving away penalties, but we lacked accuracy.
“Our kicks into the corner didn’t give us great positions and we couldn’t build enough pressure.
“Clearly we are disappointed each week, but you look back on this one and I just didn’t think they were that much better than us so it was frustrating.
“Gravesend had a really big forward pack and probably the best scrum we have faced. We struggled to combat that up front and they got on a bit of a roll, which made life difficult for us.”
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