RUGBY: Manor take lead in title race after Westcliff win (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Eton Manor go top of London 1 North after crucial 8-0 win over Westcliff but Woodford and Chingford lose
Updated 12:27pm Wednesday 12th March 2014 in Football
Eton Manor assumed pole position in the London 1 North title race after they beat league leaders Westcliff 8-0 at home on Saturday and leapfrogged their opponents to the top of the table with five matches to play.
With tough trips to Luton and Ruislip - currently third and fourth respectively - still to come for Manor, it would be premature to describe this as a title-deciding victory but it takes the initiative away from Westcliff, who also travel to Luton in three weeks time.
Manor are now a point clear of Westcliff at the summit and three ahead of Luton, who have played a game more but have the advantage of facing both the teams ahead of them at home in the run-in.
The match started tentatively but Westcliff had the first scoring opportunity when a kick through had Manor's defenders scrambling but the ball rolled over the dead-ball line.
The home side grew into the match and when Barney Newbury was brought to ground, Westcliff were penalised for going over the top, allowing Callum McKie to slot home the first three points after 18 minutes.
The game ebbed and flowed but Manor's pack was in the ascendancy.
Tryson Goodchild was leading the way for the hosts and quick ball allowed Nick Horton to spin the ball out to Stephen Ross who almost went over just before half-time but was put into touch ten metres out.
Within minutes of the second period starting, Manor extended their lead as a turnover allowed Garth Tucker to pick the ball up and drive through the open side before being brought down just short of the line.
Manor's Kevin Reed was quickest to the ball and an overlap out wide saw Will Mowbray crash over for the try.
McKie missed the conversion but Manor now had a commanding lead to defend.
The hosts continued to attack however and McKie could have extended the advantage from the tee but was unable to find the target.
With 20 minutes to play, Westcliff began to turn the screw but a combination of poor decision making and relentless saw Manor record a superb win and deny their opponents even a losing bonus-point.
On Saturday, Manor host tenth-placed Romford & Gidea Park.
With the table's top two up against each other, Luton knew a win would see them make up ground on their title rivals and they took full advantage with a resounding 75-15 win over Chingford.
Sixth-placed Chingford are still in the hunt for a play-off spot but four defeats in their last seven have seen the team fall off the pace.
Luton were too strong on the day, running in eleven tries which puts them 14 points ahead of their opponents, albeit having played a game more.
Chingford have a more comfortable run-in than some of the teams around them but it doesn't get any easier on Saturday, when they travel to Westcliff.
Woodford's recent resurgence took a knock as they were thrashed 53-0 at North Walsham.
Five wins from their last seven games has allowed Woodford to climb away from the league's relegation zone but they were second best in this contest against a Walsham side that has now only lost once in six.
Woodford are not in action this weekend. They host Colchester next on March 22.