Ilford Wanderers let big lead slip and fall to narrow loss at home to Old Cooperians
PUBLISHED: 17:00 04 April 2019
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Ilford Wanderers failed to claim the local bragging rights in London Three Essex as they were edged out in a 25-24 defeat to Old Cooperians at the weekend.
For a game that had very little riding on it other than local pride the match provided some good rugby and a fightback from the away side at Forest Road.
Ilford entered this contest looking to cement their hold on fifth place in the league table and started as if they meant business with their forwards taking the game by the scruff of the neck with Coops unable to hold back the tide.
The first score of the day came from hooker Ollie Bird, crashing over after a series of attacks to give Ilford a 5-0 lead.
They extended their advantage to 12-0 as Reece Barney broke through the remaining Coops defence to touch down.
But Cooperians kept themselves in the hunt as Ilford perhaps pushed a bit too hard and a misguided pass was snaffled and led to a try against the run of play.
The urgency remained for Ilford, but a penalty kick to the corner fizzled out with a knock-on before in one of their next attacks full-back Alex Dean crossed the line to make it 17-5.
Barney grabbed his second try, again from the back of a scrum, making it 24-5.
But Ilford’s luck started to change as they crossed the try line just before half time, only to see the ball dropped and a try go begging.
Cooperians were able to play the game through their backs scoring two tries and two long-range penalties and Ilford were now error riddled and unable to stem the visitors fight back.
Director of rugby Chris Smith said: “The frustration is not that we lost but the way we lost.
“Over the last few years we have experienced player numbers problems, as have most clubs, especially in the front row, but we have always faced the opposition as a team and never used our misfortune as an excuse.”
Ilford Wanderers now face a trip to runners-up East London for their final match of the London Three Essex season.
And they will be determined to cause an upset against the second-placed outfit as they look to ensure a fifth-place finish.