Ilford Wanderers crash to a defeat on the opening day at home to Old Cooperians
PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 September 2019
Ilford Wanderers crashed to a narrow 32-26 defeat to Old Cooperians on the opening day of the London 3 Essex season.
Coops turned up with a shiny new front row and their usual dangerous backline, Ilford, on the other hand, had been ravaged by unavailability and injury to such an extent that they had to call on the services of three veterans, who were probably planning on starting their season when the pitches got a bit softer.
Nonetheless, Ilford led by Ryan McCarthy, stuck to their task, not giving Coops any time or space and certainly gaining parity at the set pieces.
Coops took a 11-0 lead with a try and two penalties before Wanderers pressure forced a mistake, creating an opening for centre Tom Clancy to run in from 25 metres.
After a messy start Ilford were looking good and finding their feet as they went into half-time only four points adrift.
The second half saw the home forwards start to up the pace of their game and get rewarded as Flanker Sam Eddy broke away, tackles came in but he was strong enough to off load to the ever present Lawrence Brown who crossed for the score.
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This was a dominant period for Ilford well controlled by their Half Backs and it was only in the last fifteen minutes that Coops started to close the gap as Ilford's stitched together side started to tire.
Another try from winger Terry Marsons and a penalty try following good work from veteran prop Gareth Marshall Jones was almost enough until Coops fought back in the dying minutes.
Skipper Ryan Mcarthy said: "If we had been offered that result before the game we would probably taken it given the number of withdrawals we had to deal with but this is a club that never gives up.
"Not only did we have three vets playing we also had three players making their league debuts after long periods out of the game.
"It was a performance of guts and determination and we can't wait to go to Old Coops for the return."
Coach Alex Burbank added: "The good news is that we now have a selection problem for next week, as our first team squad has expanded and competition for places has gone up a few notches."
Ilford will face local rivals Barking at Gale Street this weekend.