East London empty handed at leaders despite their best display of campaign to date
PUBLISHED: 16:30 16 January 2020
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East London's best performance of the season was not enough to topple London Three Essex leaders Chelmsford, as they fell to a 36-19 defeat on Saturday.
But it was only in the last five minutes that the game slipped away from the visitors, giving their rivals a more flattering margin of victory.
Head coach Eddie Gooby said: "Playing the leaders was always going to be a big ask but we pushed them all the way to the end. Every player can feel proud of how they performed and how we did as a team. This match has set the standard for how we must play until the end of the season."
The first half began with East London playing down the sloping pitch and they were in front on two minutes as scrum-half Will Brown's delicate cross-field kick was misread by a Chelmsford back and right wing Kevin O'Donoghue pounced to score.
Full-back Max Stanyard converted but the home side came back four minutes later with an unconverted try to make it 7-5.
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East London extended their lead as fly-half Ryan Billinghurst sent the restart high and long and it bounced in the middle of four Chelmsford players, who left it to each other before left wing Bill Brown took it unopposed to the line for a 12-5 advantage.
But the next 20 minutes of the game effectively won the match for the home side as three converted tries put them 26-12 ahead.
Sustained pressure from the forwards earned the visitors a try on 34 minutes when number eight Nick Parrott squeezed over and Stanyard converted (26-19), but they missed a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Despite playing up the slope in the second half, the visitors dominated possession and territory for 35 minutes but could not find gaps in the home defence.
They came close on 52 minutes as Stanyard charged down an attempted clearance but as he tried to dive on the ball to score he was adjudged to have knocked on, then Will Brown broke the defensive line on 72 minutes but didn't have support to offload to.
A breakaway by Chelmsford on 75 minutes led to a penalty, which made it 29-19, and another late breakaway resulted in a converted try.
Despite defeat, East London remain fourth ahead of a home match at the Memorial Ground in West Ham against Campion on Saturday.