Eton Manor suffer Tring sting in London One North opener at the New Wilderness
PUBLISHED: 10:30 06 September 2016
London One North: Eton Manor 21 Tring 42
Eton Manor lost their opening match of the new London One North campaign at home to promotion contenders Tring on Saturday.
Jamie Connors men led midway through the first half and saw a number of players return following injury, but it was ultimately a disappointing afternoon at the New Wilderness.
Manor entertained Tring knowing they were in for a tough match as the visitors were the beaten play-off finalists last season after coming within minutes of winning an immediate return to the National League Three South.
The hosts fielded a number of new players who joined during the summer complimenting the vast majority of last year’s side who had stayed together despite a torrid campaign in the higher league.
Manor kicked off the match and had the better of the early exchanges with play inside Tring’s half. The visitors were falling foul of the referees’ whistle and gave away a number of early penalties which allowed Manor to keep the pressure on, but they could not break down the visitors defence.
Tring slowly came into the encounter and with a combination of hard running forwards and quick backs worked their way up field where Manor gave away a simple penalty which was converted after 12 minutes.
The score seemed to give the visitors confidence and immediately from the kick off their flanker took advantage of some poor Manor tackling, running the ball 50 meters up field before eventually being brought down.
But the damage had been done, the ball was quickly recycled and after a couple of drives, it was fed out to the wing for Tring to score the first try of the game with the conversion missed.
From the restart Manors pressed Tring and with the home sides defence working more effectively they stopped Tring’s forward drive and eventually won a penalty just inside the visitors half.
Home fly-half Mark Woollard, who was playing his first game after a season out with injury, stepped up for a shot at goal from 40 meters out, but the ball went wide.
The game settled into a period of stalemate with neither side managing to break through the others defence, until a period of pressure inside Manors 22 led to a penalty being given away.
The easy attempt was taken and Tring increased their lead to 0-11 after 20 minutes of the match. From the restart Manor pressurised the away side, keeping them inside their half and eventually winning a penalty, this time from 30 meters out.
Unfortunately it was the same result as Manors first attempt with the ball going wide of the posts, but from the 22 drop out the ball went into the arms of Michael Eghan.
The influential winger had been sorely missed by the New Wilderness outfit having spent over a season out after suffering a double leg and ankle fracture.
Eghan made good ground before eventually being brought to ground. The Manor pack then took the ball forward until it was moved through the backline again bringing Eghan into the attack.
From 30 meters out, he powered through three attempted tackles then outpaced the full-back to go over the line for Manors first score. Woollard was successful with the conversion and after 28 minutes Manor were back in the game 7-11.
Connors men were now in the ascendency and from the restart Tring kicked the ball long to Woollard who returned the kick with the ball going out on Tring’s 22 for a lineout to the visitors.
Although they won their own ball they chose to kick the ball out of defence. Manor set up a counter attack from inside their own half with Nick Sheppard combining well with his fellow centre Rhys Davis-Horne taking play into Tring’s half where they gave away yet another penalty.
Scrum-half Elliot Brown took a quick tap and go, catching Tring off guard, as he moved towards the visitors 22, then with some slick handling between Brown and Davis-Horne, play moved swiftly towards the try line.
A final pass by Davis-Horne to the supporting Nick Horton saw the Manor full-back outpace the covering defenders to score Manors second try of the game. With another successful conversion Manor now led 14-11 with a little more than eight minutes of the half remaining.
Manor continued to attack with Barney Newbury making good ground before Woollard kicked the ball deep into Tring’s half, but the visitors looked dangerous whenever they had the ball in hand and ran the ball back at every opportunity, taking play into Manors 22 and only an excellent tackle by Nick Horton preventing a likely try.
The hosts managed to turned the ball over and clear the danger. But it was only a temporary rest bite as Tring continued to combine forwards and backs well working a space for their number seven to break through a tackle and go over the line. With the conversion successful Tring regained the lead 14-18 and with time almost up, Manor were hoping to go into half time just behind the visitors.
Unfortunately from the kick off Manor went to sleep and suffered another sucker punch when they allowed Tring to work their way back into Manors 22 where they worked an overlap and scored a second quick try, this time near the corner.
The difficult conversion was successful and the referee immediately blew for halftime with Manor behind 14-25. Elliot Brown was injured in the score and had to be replaced by Reece Reed.
Manor kicked off the second half where John Robinson competed well turning the ball over allowing the hosts to kick the ball deep. Tring responded by running the ball back at Connors men and took play deep into their opponents half where a well weighted grubber kick took the ball behind Manors defence and a chase for the line ensued.
Tring won the race but in an attempt to pick the ball up, the player knocked the ball over the line, Manor had survived and then cleared their lines from the subsequent five meter scrum.
Tring now had the upper hand and after a sustained period of pressure inside Manors half, the visitors were awarded another kickable penalty which they took increasing their lead to 14-28 after five minutes of the second half.
The game moved into a period of stalemate with both sides cancelling each other out, although Manor had territorial advantage. From a Tring line-out just inside their own half Rory Moore stole the ball allowing substitute backrow Bobby Grace to punch a hole through Tring’s defence.
The backs now took up the attack again bringing Eghan into the line. The powerful winger showed no signs of his recent injury as he broke a number of tackles before crashing through the full-back to score his second try.
With the conversion successful Manor had again clawed their way back into the match at 21-28 after 20 minutes of the second half. Unfortunately it would be Manors last score of the game.
Tring upped the tempo and put the hosts under constant pressure. From an attack inside Manor’s 22 a clever little chip ahead saw the visitors impressive outside centre gather the ball and go over for another try. Again the conversion was good making the scoreline 21-35 with 65 minutes played.
Soon after the restart Manor had an opportunity to reduce the deficit when Tring launched an attack from deep inside their own territory, as the ball moved quickly along the line Sheppard anticipated a pass and went for the interception, he managed to get his hands to the ball but couldn’t quite hang on knocking the ball forward, with a clear run to the line in his sights.
Tring had the final say when they launched a final attack moving the ball out to the wing to score in the corner, and with the conversion again successful the score moved onto 21-42. The game finished with Manor on the attack but a knock on saw the encounter come to a close.
The visitors were the better side on the day and deserved their victory and no doubt will be in contention for promotion come the end of the season. Manor will be disappointed at the defeat and the fact that they lost concentration at the end of each half allowing Tring to score on both occasions.
There were a number of positives none more so that the return to action of Eghan, Woollard and captain Tryson Goodchild, all of who missed the entire season last year. As the squad begins to gel and the new players get use to their team-mates, performances will improve.
With a number of new players available for this weekend’s game, selection will again be interesting. Saturday’s opponents Chingford had a great victory away at Brentwood, a place that is notoriously difficult to win at. Manor will have to step up their performance if they want to secure their first league victory in over a year next week.