Saffron Walden show mettle to claim Ruislip triumph
PUBLISHED: 20:43 12 October 2016 | UPDATED: 20:43 12 October 2016
Danny Hunter's Saffron Walden got back to winning ways at Ruislip with an enthralling 40-29 victory that ebbed and flowed as both teams played some good entertaining rugby.
Having lost three on the spin, Walden made a poor start as the Ruislip left winger seized on a loose ball and carved through the Walden defence and under the posts for the first try.
Eight minutes later Walden once again decided to make things difficult for themselves and after a couple of penalties and a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on the home team subsequently powered over with a driving maul to increase their lead to 14-0.
Once Walden were restored to 15 they dominated the last 20 minutes of the half and notched their first points of the game.
Tom Hughes found full-back Tom Price with a super chip and he beat the covering defence to score a well-worked try wide out.
Ruislip restarted with a kick deep into the Walden half but instead of just clearing their lines Walden’s half-back spotted that Ruislip had left the narrow side exposed and a couple of passes saw left winger Matt McClagan sprint down the touchline for 80 metres and score under the posts and Walden were back in the game at 14-12.
Then with six minutes of the half remaining McClagan scored his second when a break by scrum half Paul Marshall split the defence and with a two-on-one he passed to the winger to put Walden ahead at half-time.
However Walden yet again failed to start the second half well and Ruislip managed to regain possession and broke through to score under the posts.
Then when they scored another to get the bonus point and make it 26-19 it looked ominous for Walden.
A further penalty put them ahead by two scores at 29-19 and with Walden getting the wrong end of the decisions they had two players binned.
With two props out, one already off due to a neck injury, the scrums had to go uncontested but Walden were reduced to 12 men.
But now the pace of the game changed as Walden realised the best form of defence was attack and they started running the ball deep out of defence.
Suddenly this looked like the gameplan from last year and they ran Ruislip ragged in the last 20 minutes.
First fly-half Hughes scored under the posts for 29-26 with 17 minutes remaining.
Now restored to 15 and competitive scrums it was fitting that the last two tries were scored by the pack, albeit in fine open running rugby.
First flanker Ben Stapleton showed his wingers pace as he received the ball on the halfway line and simply ran round the covering defence putting Walden 33-29 ahead.
Then substitute prop Josh Harris, supporting a good break on the outside by the backs, showed a good turn of speed as he received the final ball and scampered under the posts to seal the win 40-29.
With only three minutes remaining on the clock Walden defended well and the final whistle blew.