WOODFORD and Eton Manor locked horns for the first derby match of the new rugby season on Saturday, and it was the Highams men who emerged with the points after a low-scoring, tense affair.

The 8-5 scoreline was a reflection on the closely-fought battles going on all over the pitch and the two stubborn defences on show.

That was in contrast to the team’s attacking play, as knock-ons, offsides and missed kicks put paid to any try-scoring opportunities.

Woodford turned around with a 3-0 advantage, thanks to Ben Lloyd’s precise kick from a narrow angle.

The hosts weathered a 15-minute storm from the visitors after the break before stretching their lead with a well-worked try. A fine break from Huw Levis opened things up for Woodford and he timed the pass to Niall Moody perfectly, who swept over the line.

Manor were then awarded a penalty try after the home side were penalised when defending their try line, bringing them to within three points. However, the visitors missed their conversion attempt and a drop-kick effort was also off cue, allowing Woodford to claim the points.

Chingford’s bright start to the season ended with a 33-11 defeat to the division’s early pacesetters Ruislip. Elsewhere, Wanstead got off the mark with an emphatic 31-5 victory over Dagenham in their second London Three North East fixture of the season.

In Essex One, Bancroft registered their first win of the campaign by demolishing local rivals Upper Clapton 76-5.

However, the victory was overshadowed by a serious injury to John Cruddace, who suffered a double fracture to his leg.

Bancroft’s players were visibly shocked by the setback, but they composed themselves well and were able to run in 12 tries and eight conversions.

A brace from Pete Robinson was the highlight of the game, although the Bs must contemplate life without Cruddace as he faces a lengthy lay-off.

Meanwhile, Ilford Wanderers were mauled by Campion 72-0.