Saffron Walden make point against Manor as campaign gets off to a losing start
- Credit: Archant
Saffron Walden picked up a losing bonus point from their first London One North fixture of the season against Eton Manor.
The home side began well and attacked on the blind side with full-back Mark Kimberley, who chipped over the Manor defence and won the race to touch down.
Fly-half Tom Hughes added the conversion for an early 7-0 lead after four minutes, but Manor hit back with a brace of tries of their own for a 12-7 lead with barely eight minutes played.
The visitors then cleared with a long kick out of defence and debutant winger Ollie Webber gathered the ball and used his pace and strength to beat several defenders as he passed halfway.
Webber then found flanker Ben Stapleton on his shoulder with a pop pass and he stepped past a couple of Manor players to touch down and put Walden 14-12 up.
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There was no let-up in the scoring as Manor claimed their third try soon after, which was converted.
And although Walden landed a penalty, the visitors touched down again before half time to go into the interval with as 26-17 lead.
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Manor had the better of the third quarter and scored three well-worked tries to put the game beyond Walden’s reach at 45-17.
But the home side did not give up and camped in their opponent’s 22, applying a spell of sustained pressure before flanker Brad Baker ran a good line to break the defence and go under the posts.
Walden kept pushing in the final 10 minutes, looking for the four-try bonus point, and they got their reward when breaking from inside their own half and finding quick ball from the base of a ruck for substitute Luke O’Malley to hit a gap at pace.
O’Malley made 25 metres to find himself with only the full-back to beat, then sent a great pass for Baker to go over the line despite the attentions of a defender.
But the visitors had the final say as they took advantage of some tired Walden bodies to touch down once more two minutes from time and seal a deserved 50-29 win.
Webber and fellow debutant Peter Frost impressed for the hosts, as O’Malley also shone on his return from injury.
And Walden will hope for better at North Walsham this weekend, with the club on the lookout for new players for their first and second teams. email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.