THIS WAS A MASSIVE WIN FOR EAST LONDON WHO ARE TRYING TO SECURE SECOND PLACE AND A PLAY OFF SPOT
By Eddie Gooby
East London beat Eppin Upper Clapton 22-19
East London became only the second team this season to beat London 3 Essex champions Epping Upper Clapton with a tense 22-19 win at the Memorial Ground in West Ham on Saturday.
The sides went into the match first and second in the table and the victory keeps the maroon and blues hopes of the runners-up spot and a promotion play-off game firmly on track.
Coach Eddie Gooby said: "It was a fantastic game and both teams played some brilliant rugby. Beating the already crowned champions shows how far this squad has progressed since the start of the season."
The visitors missed the chance of a lead in the first minute with a missed penalty from distance. They had the best of the early passages of play and took the lead with a try on nine minutes, which was not converted.
Two minutes later the visitors were caught out by East London scrum-half Will Brown. His tap and go penalty was taken on by the forwards and prop Mantas Urbonavicius bundled over under the posts. Full back Max Stanyard converted.
The home side added to their lead straight from the kick-off. The restart kick was safely gathered and the ball worked across the backs to outside centre Jack Roach. He outpaced defenders down the left side and despite being grabbed by a tackle near the line his strength carried him over. The conversion was missed.
Epping had a man yellow carded on 12 minutes but the home side couldn't taken advantage. The visitors were the stronger during that period and two quick tries in succession chalked off for knock-ons.
Stanyard missed a penalty from distance on 36 minutes and the sides went into the break with East London ahead by 12-5.
Roach almost added a second try on 42 minutes. He chased his own kick over the top and knocked on as he tried to regather it. Seven minutes later Epping levelled with a converted try.
On 56 minutes a deft kick-through on the left touchline by Stanyard was gathered by right wing Kevin O'Donoghue to score. Stanyard converted from wide left.
East London almost extended their lead on the hour. Left wing Bill Brown and Roach made good progress down the left flank but were forced into touch. East London won the lineout against the head and prop Paddy Coman and the forwards drove over but were adjudged to have been held up.
The crucial score came on 65 minutes when Stanyard converted a penalty off the post from the right hand side to extend the lead to ten points.
With four minutes remaining Coman was harshly yellow carded to set up a nervy end to the game. With the extra man the league leaders scored a converted try in the final minute but East London held out for the narrow victory.
East London are next in action on Friday evening with a match under the Memorial Ground floodlights against Kings Cross Steelers at 7.45pm.
East London 1st XV versus Epping Upper Clapton: 1. Ben Hogan; 2. Lewis Bourke; 3. Mantas Urbonavicius; 4. Luke Staples-Preston; 5. Jack Millard; 6. Nick Parrott; 7. Simon Edscer; 8. Dan Bracken; 9. Will Brown; 10. Ryan Billinghurst; 11. Bill Brown; 12. Lachlan McKenzie; 13. Jack Roach; 14. Kevin O'Donogue; 15. Max Stanyard. Replacements: 16. Paddy Coman; 17. Eoin Kelly; 18. Sean Cooper.