RUGBY: Woodford boost survival hopes with Romford win (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Woodford register surprise win over Romford & Gidea Park, Eton Manor slip up at Westcliff, Chingford beat Tabard
12:05pm Wednesday 22nd January 2014 in Football
Woodford took a large step towards safety in London One North with an excellent 32-29 home win over Romford & Gidea Park on Saturday.
Four wins in their last five matches mean Woodford are now 11th in the 14-team division and nine points clear of the drop zone.
The hosts started impressively with captain Tim Saull to the fore in the lineout and scrum-half John Smith driving his pack forward.
Romford could not get into the game and the pressure soon told when Niall Moody off-loaded to Saull, who in turn found his second row partner Charlie Simpson for the first try of the game.
Pete Hyett converted and followed that with a penalty to extend Woodford’s lead to 10-0.
Woodford were forced to change their kit as the referee decided the shirts clashed and the colour-switch prompted a resurgence from Romford, who scored a try of their own.
The home side were soon back among the scoring as some flowing rugby set Will Dignon free and he off-loaded to Hyett to score in the corner.
With his kicking boots firmly on, Hyett extended the lead to 17-5.
There was still time for another score before half-time as full-back James Kilden executed a chip and chase perfectly for a 22-5 lead at the interval.
Romford improved significantly after the break and now it was Woodford on the back foot.
Four tries with only a solitary penalty for Hyett in reply left Woodford seemingly in tatters and behind for the first time in the match.
Trailing 29-25 with five minutes remaining, Woodford threw everything at their opponents and Mike Lawlor managed to pick up and crash over.
Hyett converted to give Woodford a dramatic lead and the hosts hung on to claim a memorable win.
Woodford travel to table-toppers Westcliff on Saturday.
Eton Manor’s title hopes suffered a blow as they suffered a surprise 27-13 defeat at North Walsham.
Manor are still second and only a point behind Westcliff and were certainly not the first team to come undone at eighth-placed Walsham, who have won all eight of their home matches this season.
The hosts started on the front foot and took a 7-0 lead with the first try of the game.
Callum Mckie, making his debut as captain in the absence of Tryson Goodchild, cooly converted a penalty on 25 minutes to make it 7-3 but Walsham restored their advantage with a penalty of their own.
Mckie pulled it back to 10-6 with a neatly-struck penalty but a second Walsham try made the score 17-6 at half-time.
Manor pushed forward down the slope in the second period with Kevin Reed going close to scoring but it was Walsham who scored next to go 24-6 ahead.
Reece Reed and Stephen Ross kept probing out wide but final passes went begging and it wasn’t until Chris Jones forced his way through for a converted try that Manor reduced the deficit.
A late penalty allowed Walsham to make it 27-13 though, as Manor slipped to their third loss of the season.
On Saturday, Manor play Chingford, who remain in touching distance at the top after a 22-8 victory at Tabard.
Chingford are fourth, six points behind Westcliff but having played a game more than the two teams at the top.