Essex League Division Two
Woodford 50 – 10 Eton Manor

Seven months ago Woodford opened their Essex Division 2 campaign with a disappointing 19 – 5 defeat at the hands of Braintree. With only one other slip up during the season Woodford entered the final league game knowing they had to win to keep their promotion hopes alive.

Woodford’s opening line up welcomed back Rob Yiannakou at prop and featured a strong replacements bench to cover all eventualities.

From the kick off Jed West and Mick Chamberlain were quick to make tackles deep in the Eton Manor half. The ball was quickly recycled and Tom Mead, Jamie Al and West linked up well to attack down the right. In the tackle West slipped an inside pass to Yiannakou who so nearly scored on his return. Resolute defence by Eton Manor held the ball up but the pressure was on.

From the resulting scrum West at number 8, picked up the ball and drove over for the opening try. Alex Marks added the conversion and with two minutes gone Woodford held a 7 – 0 lead.

Woodford fielded the re-start kick well and Marks started a run through the middle, exchanging passes with Rhys Phillips, Haaris Sohoye, Dan Farrelly and Ali. The attack faltered as an over eager Woodford infringed.

Eton Manor worked their way back up field and from another penalty they kicked to the Woodford try line. The threat was held up by the Woodford defence but the scrum conceded. In a mirror image of the Woodford try, the Eton Manor number 8 picked and drove over to bring the score to 7-5 after eight minutes.

Woodford re-grouped and took the game back to Eton Manor. Phillips disrupted the play with a strong tackle forcing a scrum. The Woodford pack provide clean ball but play broke down. Another attack was stopped by a strong Farrelly tackle before Will Carey had to do the same out on the wing.

After 11 minutes Max Venditti replaced Victor Chujor who was playing with a broken finger and needed treatment. The next Eton Manor attack was tackled to a standstill by Sohoye. Will Curness in his usual physical rucking mode drove Eton Manor back followed by William Tindall winning turnover ball.

Woodford launched an attack from just inside Eton Manor’s half. Marks, Matt Bastick and Farrelly linked well. Marks looped round to continue the move and neatly chipped the ball ahead as he was forced in to touch. With Eton Manor defending in numbers the chance appeared to have gone, but Bastick coolly plucked the ball up and with a low drive force his way over for a 12 – 5 lead after 14 minutes.

Tindall’s boot disintegrated allowing Arun Vaid to come on whilst replacement footwear was found. Euan Fay caught the high restart kick, quickly laying the ball off to West for a clearance kick and chase. As Eton Manor tried to clear Fay and Vaid went in with tackles to win he ball before Fay, Curness and Sohoye crafted a good incursive driving move as Woodford began to take a firmer hold on the game.
Marks came off for treatment making way for Ronan McGoldrick to make his debut for Woodford. A quick pass from Mead saw McGoldrick spot a gap and make a searing run before offloading to Phillips. The move continued and a neat side step from Carey created space for a pass to West, on to Farrelly before McGoldrick linked up on the wing to attack.

The Eton Manor defence covered and re-gained the ball but could not break out of their half as tackles rained in from Chamberlain, Curness and Carey forcing a knock on. From the scrum a second pick and drive by West was rewarded with a try, his fourteenth of the season, which he converted himself, 19 – 5 after 21 minutes.

From the restart Woodford applied more pressure, Yiannakou and Vaid taking play in to the opposition half. An Eton Manor attack was thwarted by a low tackle at full stretch by Phillips. With turnover ball the powerhouse of Chamberlain and Venditti fuelled an immense Woodford drive. Play became a bit messy so Mead cleared it up, set Curness off on a break, feeding West and then Ali who made many yards down the left wing before holding up the ball until support arrived.

A penalty to Woodford was kicked in to touch in the Eton Manor 22. The resultant line out saw Fay out jump his opposite number flipping the ball back to Mead. An attack involving McGoldrick, Farrelly, Sohoye and Carey nearly came off but Eton Manor re-gained the ball and put in a huge relieving kick.

At the next breakdown, Fay picked up and drove the ball, before Mead, Farrelly and McGoldrick combined to launch another attack. At the next stoppage Bastick made way for Marks.

McGoldrick was having a fine debut and after a strong run down the right wing found he was not held in the tackle, regained his feet, and drove over for a well deserved try, 24 – 5 after 29 minutes.

Taylor Wilkins came on for Yiannakou ad West made way for Chujor. With second to go to half time Woodford threatened another score with a dazzling run by Sohoye, an off load to Marks but his break was ct down by a good tackle. As Manor threatened to counter attack Chujor tackled the half to a close.

Half time score   Woodford 24 – 5 Eton Manor

Vaid and Venditti made way for West and Tindall at half time. The kick off was caught by West who fed McGoldrick for a good attacking run.

As play moved down the left wing Marks, Farrelly and Carey linked up before Tindall took on the move with assistance from Wilkins and Phillips forcing a penalty. Mead fed Curness on a straight drive, quickly recycled to Marks who spotted a gap and darted through for a score he then converted, 31 – 5 on thirty three minutes.

The restart went badly for Eton Manor as Woodford secured the ball and attacked. Mead made a break, Farrelly took over and a well timed pass to Marks gave him room to sprint down the right wing and round between the posts to make his conversion easy, 38 – 5. Mead made way for Sean Moore.

Eton Manor recovered and re-focussed and forced the play up in to the Woodford half. A penalty was kicked in to touch near the Woodford try line. Eton Manor won the line out and started a driving maul. Curness put in a mammoth effort to stop the advance but Eton Manor put more and more players in to the maul, drove it over the line and scored, 38 – 10.

Soon after the restart, to Woodford’s dismay, the impressive Farrelly was ‘sin binned’, leaving Woodford a man down for 10 minutes and vulnerable to attack.

Eton Manor knew this and attacked well. Woodford tackle count went up as Marks, Ali, Vaid and Wilkins all put in massive hits. Withstanding the pressure well Woodford then countered with a pumping run by West. The move looked like a certain score but was called back for a forward pass.

Woodford took the strike against the head and the nippy Moore found Carey who jinked and passed to McGoldrick. His run was stopped but the ball went to Sohoye but he was held up just short of the try line.

Woodford then delivered the best passing move of the game. Moore on the right hand side began a move which brought in Chamberlain, Tindall, Fay, Marks, McGoldrick, West and finally Carey on the left wing to dart over for a fine team try. Mars converted giving Woodford a comfortable 45 – 10 lead. Filip Goralczyk replaced Phillips.

Fay caught the restart and drove forward but the attack broke down. Callum Levy came on in the front row in place of Tindall. Moore was sharp at the base of the scrum setting off Marks and then McGoldrick on attacking runs. Farrelly returned to the game and Woodford had not conceded a point.

Tackles from Sohoye and Ali gave Eton Manor no respite but they continued to attack. Forced back to five metres from their own line Woodford faced a lineout. Choosing to live dangerously, Chujor caught the opposition ball and started a move from his own try line.

The ball was passed along the backs from Marks, to Sohoye to Farrelly. As Eton Manor pressed up there was enough space for a quick pass to Carey who set off down the left wing. With the length of the field to run he made tremendous ground but the full back tracked across and tackled him in to touch on the Eton Manor 22m line. Carey needed treatment and was replaced by Bastick.

More Woodford possession followed and Ali and Farrelly added to their tackle count if any threat emerged. In the opposition half Bastick caught a clearance kick and attacked. Feeding Sohoye for another of his mazy runs, dancing through tackles before finding West in support to finish off the move with a well worked try, 50 – 10 as the whistle blew for full time.

Woodford’s promotion is much deserved, built on the development of a strong and cohesive squad with a dedicated coaching team. A special mention should go to those team members who did not make the squad for this game. All players have contributed to a successful season and the vocal support is important and appreciated.

Final score Woodford 50 – 10 Eton Manor
Woodford Man of the Match (backs) Ronan McGoldrick
Woodford Man of the Match (forwards) Jed West