Saturday September 11th was the big day for Ealing versus Richmond derbies with the 1sts, 2nds and Vets all going head to head, toe to toe and even toe to head in some cases. With the Evergreens kicking off at 11.30am, it was up to us to get the day off to a successful start for the club. We had a decent side out despite the early start and with our new warm-up t-shirts kindly supplied by Trailfinders we were almost looking sharp! Until you looked a bit closer and saw that we had nicked a size 3 ball off some kids to practise with cos our usual ones were on the way with Weekesy.
Richmond kicked off and the pattern of the first half was quickly established with some very good attacking play by the Evergreens, Big Rob Salisbury won the early lineouts and the pack set up our dominance with strong scrums and good rucking, Richmond got into our 22 and won a penalty which would have been a tapover but opted for the lineout. Some solid tackling, which was a feature of Ealing’s day, held Richmond out and Ealing were back on the attack. Ealing won a penalty under the Richmond posts which Eddie Beck tapped over to give us the lead 3 - 0. Ealing stayed on the attack and soon won another penalty which Ricky kicked deep into the Richmond half. From the lineout, Ealing won the ball and Ricky made a lovely break from an ensuing ruck. He passed to Eddie Beck who drew the cover and passed into the gap for Steeny to run onto the ball and score under the posts. 10 - 0 to Ealing at half-time.
The second half saw a resurgent Richmond but the Ealing defence was fantastic all throughout the game with the back row of Brendan O’Flaherty, Andrew Lee and Johnny Ronane being rock solid around the fringes. Fly-half Ed Beck and centre Dave Steene stopped anything that Richmond tried in the mid-field. Richmond stuck to their pattern of short passes and supported each other well but seemed reluctant to spread the ball wide. Oh and there was one incident I certainly won’t be allowed to forget… Richmond had a defensive line-out inside their 22 and the ball fell on their side of the lineout apparently knocked forward by an Ealing hand but there was no whistle so I ran in and picked it up and made for the line. The full back and winger were making for me but all I had to do was drop the shoulder and dive over the line. Fatally, I only had the ball under one arm and as I dived over the winger lunged with his arm and knocked the ball from my grasp. To make matters worse, Andy Lee had been in support so if I had passed earlier he would definitely have scored. As I was reminded often and loudly afterwards that makes two weeks in a row. Mea Culpa.
Richmond weren’t finished though and did get into our 22 again with just 5 minutes to go and winning a penalty right in front of the posts, this time they opted to take the points. 10 - 3 with just minutes left but the Evergreens would not be denied and deservedly held on for an important win. First league game of the season and a first win over Richmond for 5 years. This was a great start to the year with everyone playing with total commitment and some excellent rugby was on display. So much so that the referee told me afterwards, when we were discussing some of his decisions, that he had never played at such a high level. I pointed out that it was Vets rugby but he reckoned it was one of the best games he’d seen as a referee. Well done to all who played and a sincere apology to the boys on the bench who didn’t get on because I had my head stuck up my a*se and in the heat of the game forgot to make changes!
Off then to the lunch and the start of a long day spent celebrating what turned out to be a clean sweep of Ealing wins with the 1sts and 2nds also being triumphant in their games. Lets hope the rest of the season goes like this!
Back: Lee, Ronane, Davis, Melia, Glancy, Beck, Spadavecchia, Salisbury, Rutherford, Clarke
Front: Gardner, Morgan, Jackson, Cronin, O'Flahery, Brathwaite, Steene
Ealing Evergreens: 10
I remember this game very well. On the same day the Pros were hosting Richmond at home and there was a lunch. We kicked off very early to attend lunch as well so the result became known. This gave President Dick Craig the opportunity to have a gloat in his post dinner speech. Which he duly did.
The Richmond royalty were not best pleased. To say the least! A few weeks later the reverse fixture took place. Our 14 man squad was woefully underpowered. The Heavies fielded 28 players - at least. We picked up a spectator at Richmond who gamely turned out for us, only to be injured off after five minutes.
Final score Heavies 83 - 0 Evergreens.
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