Ealing Exiles fire into the MMT Semi's with a forward frenzy of tries versus Quintin IIs.
Nick Greenhalgh reports from the flank and then a little later from hooker.
The Exiles needed to beat Quintin and beat them by over 25 points to secure our position in the Division 5 MMT league semi finals. I told the boys to got out and score some tries hard and fast, and they delivered! Fantastic effort saw the Exiles put 43 points to 12 over the visitors.
We managed to get a full team and a fist full of subs to start the game which was great especially as we had contracted out 3 of our key core player to other teams in the club. To the Cougars went Stef for his hands at 9 and Steve Richards (note Steve's 2nd game of the week for the Cougars) for speciality front row skills, Barry to the vets for the same reasons as Steve, but as Barry is younger than Steve he got to play for the Vets!
We lost the toss, but made the most of it by being able to choose the starting side. I opted for the strong wind behind us as opposed to a bit of sun in our eyes in the second half. This worked well, we fired straight into their 22 and spent much of the first half there. Greg L just back from injury was denied a try early on, couldn't quite ground it, but the oppo were failing to clear against the wind and we were frequently rewarded with lineouts in excellent positions around their 22 and close to their try line. After several forward moves we managed to get the first points on the board as Marc H positioned him self in an excellent location to take the ball on after a quick forwards smash up the Quintin guts. Did I incidentally say I made the pass to him? Shortly after we mounted several more attacks on their line, failing to cleanly control the white line fever until finally the opportunity came at the side of a ruck and Alex K with some great supporting efforts nabbed the second try!
The game settled down a little but the Exiles were very much in control, and our forward were loving running hard straight lines into the Quintin defences.
As we had a squad of 20 we needed to make some changes at half time, one of these included bringing on new Exile Gavin. Gavin had been put in touch by Toolan snr who claimed he had some Pedigree. Chandra mentored Gavin on the sideline during the first half, running through all the backs moves and Exiles tactics etc. before going on to talk nonsense for the remaining 39 minutes of that 1st half. Gavin duly scored a try on his first contact of the ball making a cracking run from about 15 metres out quickly snaking out of oppo grasp at speed! Welcome to the Exiles Gavin - nice work.
Following this restart came the embarrassing play of the season event. A certain player who will remain unnamed for his safety, failed to catch a long ball from the restart (despite shouting for a "name on it") allowing it to bounce over the try line and almost over the dead ball line. The problem was that as it rolled slowly towards its stop by his feet. An oppo sprinter fired through and touched it down as the rest of team held their heads in their hangs. As I heard Brian Moore say at the weekend re Tommy Bowes interception... "if this was cricket, you'd think something untoward was going on". Is betting on Exiles matches reaching the same corrupt levels... the player did make the mistake of telling me he was hard up a few weeks ago 😉 Luckily as the final whistle blew we had the greater than 25 point difference we needed and so this matter is of no matter. Had we won by hmm say 36 not 43 it's said he'd have been hung draw and quartered by Eff on his return from drinking Czech beers.
Both backs and forwards were making some good ground. Alex K moved to wing from centre in the second half and made up for a lack of ball from the centres by helping himself to quick line out ball, taking everyone by surprise, but also made some great runs, not to mention a nice charge down. Afe back from long term injury also wanted some action, again running hard into the oppo and working well while the rest of the Exiles managed to get in and support.
I managed to get on the score sheet from a oppo throw in about 10 yards out from their line. Their jumper tapped it down, but not to their number 9, it bounced off the hard ground straight into my hands for a simple as good as uncontested run in!
Gavin looked lively again but failed to break through and score on his second touch. How quickly my hopes were quashed of a perfect try per touch ratio.
Andy Madden at fullback showed his angry man was not well contained with his numerous smashes into the Quintin backs. Great work.
Jareth at fly half was trying hard to keep his try scoring tally ticking breaking through many first tacklers and showing his worth. I think 'cos his Mum was watching he felt he ought to distribute his tries a little more this weekend. Please come down more Jareth's Mum!
We kept the tactic of hard running going and had some cracking domination in the scrums. So much so that the ref admitted it and said if we didn't control the power a bit more before the put in he'd start to ping us. The boys were on fire! Sadly Greg L's battery ran out and we had to have a shuffle round with me moving to hook, Fabio crabbing left to loose head prop and Mark T back on to flank in my place.
Barry also came on for a cameo appearance after playing a full game for the Vets as they were short a prop, good effort for a someone with Spanish man flu picked up on Tour in Denia last weekend.
Favourite moment of the game, a game that had many, for me was during an attack on the oppo left corner, about 5 yards out from their try line, the oppo turned the ball over we were chasing down but not close. Then the oppo kicker goes to hoof the ball, but miss hits it so that it rather gently lands in my unexpected hands. As many will attest I was quite shocked and indeed for a second or so could not really understand what was going on, literally I froze for a second wondering why the ball was in my hands. Luckily I snapped out and span it out to the try hungry Mark H for him to bludgeon over the line and score yet again.
Marc H managed to score 3 tries in this game! I think he tops must be close to topping the chart of tries scored by front row players in a single Exile season! Sterling work for his first season with the Exiles and first season at rugby.
Julian showed he wasn't up for being left out from the score sheet also with one of his trade mark finishes, dragging a few oppo with him from a ruck. At least this week he didn't over hear the oppo players saying things like "you see that old man, he just dragged five of us over the try line", as he did a couple of weeks back v Old Actonians. Oddly the oppo said nothing when Steve Richards almost 15 years his senior at 54 ran in a try a little earlier in that game 😉
Can't really fault any Exiles on the performance at the weekend, even the fella who presented the oppo with a restart try more than made up for that mistake. Great to win and great to get the bonus point. In order not to get in the semi final of the MMT league the following has to happen. Bank of England IIIs need to beat Feltham by a positive points difference of 126 points AND Old Isleworthonians IIs need to also beat Feltham by a positive points difference of 141! I think we can rest on our laurels and be happy that our strong second half of season play has brought us back into contention. We will end 3rd in the table and we will play OA's IIs in the semi on 24th March. As we just beat them pretty convincingly we could well be looking at a final play-off game on 14th April! Who would have expected that a couple of months ago! Great effort boys, lets keep it up.
Big thanks to the ref who did a grand job of controlling everything and big thanks to Quintin for being a cracking oppo.
Marc Hubbard (3!)
James Hitchcock (2)
Jonathan McKeogh (2)
Players and rough positions played:
Alex Kruczkowski (13,14)
Barry Cousins (1)
Nick Greenhalgh (7,2)
Fabio Krasniqi (2,3)
Jareth Keenan (10,13)
Julian Sweeny (8)
Neal Craig (12, 10)
Gautam Tamang (6)
Jonathan McKeogh (5)
Greg Life (1)
Mark Thompson (13,7)
Gavin Doyle (12)
Paul Havel (11)
Marc Hubbard (1)
Jeremy Inson (9)
James Hitchcock (15)
Andrew Madden (15)
Danny Ford (9)
John Moore (4)
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