Skipper Alex ‘unpronounceable’ leads Exiles to a satisfying win at Feltham. Dave Morgan reports from the backrow.
The Exiles travelled to Feltham after narrowly losing to British Airways the previous week. The ref’s shrill whistle of that game was still in our ears and the mood was to approach the Feltham game in a much more positive manner. Two other details gave this game added meaning: the opposition were unbeaten in this season’s Merit League added to the fact it was Alex Kruczkowski’s last game for the Exiles before heading off to New Zealand to marry his internet bride/be with the love of his life/indulge in French style sabotage in Auckland harbour (delete as appropriate). More on Alex later.
As is our way, over half the team arrived with only 30 minutes to kick off. The excuse this time was our trusty sat navs took us, en masse, to a dead end near Feltham’s ground. Learning for next time we play Feltham? Use a paper map not technology.
Despite the minimal amount of spent time warming-up and talking tactics, the game started brightly for the Exiles. Decisive forward play saw us near Feltham’s line in a few rapid phases. Feltham are top of the league not without merit, but they seemed shaken by the ferocity of our start. The pressure told and Stef McCabe squeezed over the line. Andy Johnston missed the conversion but was more successful several minutes later when he kicked a penalty after frequent Feltham attempts to illegally quell the Exiles’ tempo. Feltham 0 - Exiles 8.
This was the slapped face that Feltham needed. Their burly forwards, equally chunky but fast backs and a canny fly-half - who has a keen eye for kicking into space - were now resembling the side that put 50 unanswered points on the Exiles earlier in the season. They scored two well-taken tries to end the half 10 - 8 in their favour. Crucially, Feltham’s poor kicking from the tee was to be their undoing as they missed both conversions and other opportunities for points in the second half.
The second half started brightly for Feltham. After securing half-way line possession the ball was whipped out to their backs and their centre scored to make it 15 - 8. It was now Exiles time to get feisty. A number of our players were starting to gain yards. Ash Spencer was doing what he does best, his fellow prop Patrizio Bancher was bouncing off Feltham players at speed.
Rhys Langford was powerfully breaking the line and making a nuisance of himself in defence. Johnston was also shrewdly orchestrating play in the backs. We manoeuvred ourselves to Feltham’s try-line for a period of sustained pressure. It told and Dave MacSweeney darted over with Andy J kicking the conversion. Feltham 15 - Exiles 13.
There was now only 15 minutes of the game to go. This was now a proper game of rugby with a good ref competently managing the usual moans (from either side) and fairly calling the plays. With only eight minutes of the game remaining, Langford (pictured below) gained the ball on the half-way line and took off towards the post. He had three defenders to beat but his speed, power and snake-hips bamboozled Feltham’s defenders and he scored under the post with Johnston adding the two points. 15 - 20 in Exiles favour. We closed the game in style, easily closing down Feltham’s desperate attacks whilst pressing their line for an extra score.
This felt good. Our skipper for the day, Alex, summed up the feeling at the end. Hard, committed play without the moaning and back-chat which has too often marred Exiles performances. In terms of Alex, I know I reflect the feelings of the team and amateur section as a whole by stating how much we appreciate what he has done as Senior Amateur Section Chairman over the years. Those of us who thought he took on the role just for a club blazer and a parking space have been proved wrong as he has set about injecting new life into the club. He has committed great deal of his time and made those little unnoticed sacrifices that such a position demands to leave the club in a better state than when he first undertook the role. Cheers Alex.
Gallery: Courtesy of Paul Clarke’s photos.
- Stef McCabe
- Dave MacSweeney
- Rhys Langford
Con and Pen:
Squad and rough positions:
Alun Simpson 15
Andrew Johnston 10
Alex Kruczkowski 13
Ashley Spencer 1
Ryhs Langford 12
John Moore 5
David MacSweeney 2,9
David Morgan 7
Fabio Krasniqi 2
Gautam Tamang 5
Jonathan McKeogh 8
Marco Orsi 11
Matteo Alonzi 14
Neal Craig 11
Patrizio Bancher 3
Sean Stevens 4
Stefan McCabe 9
Richard Bull 6
The notes presented at the Club Dinner 2014-15 season include a short summary of this match. One of the players that day went on to win his Club Cap in the following season.
- Player epitomises what the Ealing Men’s Section is all about. He’s good enough to play in the first team, happy to play in any team. What we call “a proper club man”.
- We are also lucky to have him here as he’s recovering from an alcohol induced, near death experience whilst competing in last week’s Kinsale Sevens.
- Biggest claim to fame. Exiles away at unbeaten Feltham - they were cocky and loaded with ringers. So were we. Close game. Feltham score try mid way through second half. Their star kicker lines up the conversion. Our star player not only charged down the kick but his follow-through was so robust he broke the kicker's foot. Of he went. Replacement kicker was crap. Ealing win.
- Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Jon McKeogh.
See all 111 People
See all 48 Digital Assets