Missed conversion costly as East London are edged out by Braintree in dour battle

An East London player makes his point (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

An East London player makes his point (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo) - Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo

A missed conversion was all that separated East London from hosts Braintree after suffering a 7-5 defeat in a dour London Three Essex encounter on Saturday.

The visitors, who conceded 37 points in the corresponding fixture last season in the snow, were asked to play uphill into strong wind and driving rain in the first half, but the decision almost backfried on Braintree.

Despite dominating for most of the 40 minutes, the home side could only cross the East London line once, when some slack defensive work in an an otherwise solid display resulted in a converted try on 13 minutes.

Braintree could have added to their lead midway through the half but a penalty from in front of the posts flew wide from distance.

The home side had a man yellow carded on 33 minutes, but East London couldn’t take advantage.

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And the second half was also a complete reversal of the first with East London enjoying the majority of possession and territory, but penalties and turnovers at vital moments costing them dear.

They eventually scored the try their play deserved on 76 minutes when left wing Sean Cooper touched down in the corner after good work from the pack.

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But from the left touchline fly-half Ryan Billinghurst drifted the conversion wide and the Braintree defence then stood firm to the end to hold on for their victory.

The only consolation for the visitors was gaining a losing bonus point and the result means East London and Braintree swap places in the table heading into a break from league action.

Head coach Eddie Gooby said: “They played the conditions slightly better than we did. They kicked their conversion, we didn’t; it was as simple as that.

“This result will not define our season, but give us confidence that under great pressure in the scrums and lineouts we stayed positive throughout with an unbelievable effort in defence.

“We’ve got a cup match on Friday night against Kings Cross Steelers so we can experiment a bit with the team and systems before our next league game at home to leaders Chelmsford.”

East London: Hogan; Dunn; Samuel; Schofield; Staples-Preston; Brown; Parrott; Bracken; Mylchreest; Billinghurst; Cooper; Yiannakou; W Brown; O’Donoghue; Stanyard; Gibson; B Brown.

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