It was backs to the wall for Spartans first league game against Ealing Exiles as a shortage of numbers meant several players were lined up to play in the 1s game later the same afternoon. This was the first time we were playing with the new systems we’d been training all summer and we were lucky to have Billy ‘PowerPoint’ Edmonds directing things at 10. This meant we could warm up properly and spend some time working on where people needed to be without the pressure of a game situation.
It was also an opportunity for us to enjoy the mercurial delights of Philippe David Tait at inside centre. With a deceptive lack of pace and absolutely no subtlety, Ealing were unaware who they were facing in what is likely to be his last game for the club given his move to Singapore. And so it was that Taity set Spartans on their way with the first try of the match. Some successful phase play saw the ball recycled to Phil and with the defence over committed, Taity stepped inside his defender and touched down under the posts.
Spartans gander was up and we fought hard to keep ourselves camped in Ealing’s half and the second try duly arrived when Dan ‘Kiddie’s Mix’ Jones scored the first of his three tries. A third try duly followed from Flatman who was revelling in his number 8 role and after 26 minutes Spartans were 19-0 up.
This seemed to spur Ealing into action and the finished the half a lot stronger, seeming to get on the loose ball every time and finding space where previously the Spartans defence held strong. And so the pressure finally told and they scooted over for an unconverted try.
However, the last try of the half went to Spartans with ‘Kiddie’s Mix’ charging down a kick before securing the loose ball and dotting it down over Ealing’s line. So despite only really playing for the first 20 minutes, Spartans had carved themselves a 24-5 lead.
The half time discussion focused on keeping the set piece strong as the scrum and line out had gone exceptionally well. Olly Vivian proving to be a revelation in the number two jumper role and Adi Cela showing great darts to hit him every time.
The second half started much the same as the first with Spartans dominating the set pieces and so it was from a scrum that George and Kiddie’s Mix called a varsity ball and Flatman powered over the line to make it 29-5. However, this was the last scrum that Spartans would dominate with Ealing suffering a front row injury meaning the scrum went uncontested and the ability to snatch ball against the head was lost.
This seemed to deflate Spartans a little and some ragged defence allowed Ealing to score two quick tries, both thankfully unconverted so the score mid-way through the second half was 29-15…
Squeaky bum time perhaps? Spartans regrouped under their posts after that second score and committed to getting the next score to make the game safe and so it was that we did score the next try with Kiddie’s Mix finishing off his hat trick after some slick interplay between the forwards with Michal going on a barrelling run that Captain Newe continued before seeing the ball recycled quickly to set Dan free.
The best try of the match was to follow with Billy firing out a great flat pass that invited the silent assassin Dan Hamblin to hit the gap between the two Ealing defenders. Still with work to do, Dan accelerated into space before turning the covering defender inside out with a few twists and turns and dotting the ball down under the posts.
There was still time for Taity to get his second of the day and put a great gloss on the team’s performance and his own.
So with the final whistle blown, the score read Spartans 48 Ealing Exiles 15. The team reflected on the great passages of play, especially in the second half of the second half (or the fourth quarter) of the game. It would’ve been easy to stick with things at 29-15 or worse, let Ealing get even closer, but Spartans reset, worked to their phases and exploited the skill and capability of the potent back line by the forwards showing more aggression at rucks and in carrying the ball. A great start to the season further boosted by several of the team supporting the 1s in their resounding 78-5 victory against Feltham.
Tries: Dan Jones x 3, Phil Tait x 2, George Flatman x2, Dan Hamblin x1
Conversions: Dan Hamblin x4
MoTM: Kiddies Mix Jones
DoTD: Philippe Tait (for obvious reasons!)
Squad: Christian, Adi, Sam Martin, Kevin, Oly, Michal, Gav, George, DJ, Billy, Jake, Phil, Dan Hamblin, Jacko, Robling, Tim, Bart
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