East London inflict rare loss on leaders to keep hopes of finishing as runners-up alive
PUBLISHED: 15:00 26 March 2019
East London became only the second team to beat London Three Essex champions Epping Upper Clapton this season with a tense 22-19 win at West Ham's Memorial Ground 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 a penalty from distance in the first minute but 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, whose tap and go penalty was taken on by the forwards and prop Mantas Urbonavicius bundled under the posts for full-back Max Stanyard to convert.
The hosts added to their lead straight from the restart, which was safely gathered and the ball worked across the backs to outside centre Jack Roach, who outpaced defenders on the left and despite being tackled near the line his strength carried him over.
The conversion was missed and 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 were chalked off for knock-ons.
Stanyard missed a penalty from distance on 36 minutes as East London went into the break with a 12-5 lead.
Roach almost added a second try on 42 minutes as he chased his own kick over the top but knocked on as he tried to regather it.
Seven minutes later Epping levelled with a converted try, but on 56 minutes a deft kick from near the left touchline by Stanyard was gathered by right wing Kevin O’Donoghue to score and Stanyard converted.
East London almost extended their lead on the hour as left wing Bill Brown and Roach made good progress on the left but were forced into touch. The hosts won the lineout against the throw 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 10 points.
With four minutes left Coman was yellow carded and the leaders scored a converted try in the final minute, but East London held on.
East London host Kings Cross Steelers at the Memorial Ground on Friday (7.45pm).
East London: Hogan; Bourke; Urbonavicius; Staples-Preston; Millard; Parrott; dscer; Bracken; Brown; Billinghurst; Brown; McKenzie; Roach; O’Donogue; Stanyard; Coman; Kelly; Cooper.