Trinity 0-50 TeddingtonJanuary 11, 2024
VANDALS GAME OFFJanuary 19, 2024
Eastbourne 68-19 Trinity
Trinity travelled to Sussex with hopes of doing rather better than in recent fixtures, particularly since they had had the better of their match with these opponents earlier in the season. The score does not suggest that there was much joy for them but, as usual, it does not tell the full story.
Trinity started well and the first scrum was solid. A strong run from skipper Marc McEvilly forced Eastbourne to defend but the visitors knocked on. Trinity kept up the pressure for the second scrum and, when the ball popped out, Olly Hubbard hacked forward to put the home line under siege. The hosts defended well but Trinity kept the ball alive and moved it right for Ben Telfer to come into the line and cross for the opening try after only 4 minutes. Jack Greenwood kicked a sweet conversion for a 7-0 advantage. Eastbourne then produced some fluid attacking play and Trinity had to defend. Strong tackles from Ty Williams and Ben Vaillant forced a knock-on and from the scrum Dan Crouch linked well with Telfer who broke the defence and was almost clear. Eastbourne infringed and Telfer kicked the penalty to the corner. An excellent take in the line out by Dave Spedding from Ali Hall’s throw gave Trinity the chance to spin the ball out along the line. However, this very promising start all came to nothing when the ball was intercepted, and the Eastbourne man was able to run unopposed from his own 22 to score under the posts.
Straight from the kick-off the ball fell for the home side again and their lively backs quickly shipped the ball to the winger who scored their second try. Both tries were converted and in no time at all Trinity had gone from a dominating position to be 7-14 down. An injury to McEvilly did not bode well for Mids as their squad, already depleted because of injuries, had suffered another when Toby Plant was hurt in the warm-up and had only one replacement, though an effective one in Alex Scott. Hopes were still high, however, as the match was evenly balanced.
Good carries from Hall and Vaillant and a strong run from Callum True on the wing, followed by some feisty tidying up by the same player were positives for Trinity, as was the vastly improved working of their line out with Spedding, Vaillant and George Daniels all profiting from Hall’s accurate throwing. McEvilly returned to the fray and put in a towering kick which an Eastbourne defender clearly knocked on in his own 22 but was allowed, to the consternation of spectators from both sides, to play on and set up a sweeping backs move which Trinity were fortunate to be able to defend. The visitors now had a strong period when more good line out play, strong carries from Vaillant and McEvilly and a couple of infringements by Eastbourne gave Telfer the opportunity to find touch in the corner. An excellent take by Daniels set up a platform for a driving maul and a couple of phases later Trinity had controlled possession well to put Mark Macaskill over for their second try. Greenwood’s conversion attempt shaved the post, but Mids were in good shape at 12-14 after 35 minutes.
They then produced a lovely move when, after a strong scrum, Crouch dinked a clever chip over the defence which was collected by McEvilly who transferred to Williams in space. He ran strongly but did not use the support outside him and, when he was tackled, True followed up well to take the ball on. A harsh decision deemed that it had gone forward. Half time was looming as Jeevan Saggu pulled off a fine tackle to prevent an Eastbourne breakaway. For once Mids’ line out throw was adjudged not straight and, in the last play of the half, from the scrum Eastbourne set up for a kick to the corner which fell nicely for their winger to touch down. Trinity had played well but were 21-12 down at the interval.
The second half was nearly all one way. The Trinity tackling was not as sure as it had been, and Eastbourne had slick and hungry backs to gobble up any chances given. Mackaskill was injured which did not help. Two more seven pointers were added to the home total before Trinity came again and they battered the line with Vaillant, Daniels, Hall and Jacques Bryant all just short before Eastbourne hacked clear. Greenwood then suffered a head injury and a patched-up Macaskill bravely soldiered on.
Dom Plumb belied his years, getting stuck in in the loose as well as very effectively holding up his corner in the scrum. But the pressure told and Trinity’s passing became rather frantic with two passes going directly to willing Eastbourne hands. Eventually there was some respite when Williams found the space to show his paces and sped to the line for Trinity’s third try with 10 minutes left. Telfer popped over the conversion with a drop-kick as, at 19-49 down, Trinity knew they could not win the game and threw everything into an effort to get a try bonus point. This decision and a further injury to Spedding, reducing them to 14, opened the floodgates for Eastbourne who registered two more converted tries. The Mids’ bonus point was very nearly secured when they pounded the Eastbourne line and forced them to concede a yellow card after infringing repeatedly.
Again, the siege was raised by Eastbourne, and they added to Trinity’s misery by breaking away at the death and scoring their 10th try. The home kicker who had succeeded with every one of his previous conversions, including at least one bizarre low fizzing effort but also some magnificent strikes, failed to nail his perfect ten but Eastbourne will remember this victory for a long time. Ironically Trinity, at the receiving end of a right drubbing, had produced some of the best passages of play of their season.
Match report GERRY MURPHY
TRIBE ADVISORY PLAYER OF THE MATCH: OLLY HUBBARD