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East London miss out on promotion after Holt defeat

PUBLISHED: 14:00 16 April 2019

Action from the play-off match between Holt and East London (pic Stuart Young)

Action from the play-off match between Holt and East London (pic Stuart Young)

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Rugby: Holt 31 East London 22

East London narrowly missed out on promotion to London 2 North East when they went down 31-22 to Holt in a tightly contested play-off game.

Head coach Eddie Gooby was proud of his London 3 Essex runners-up who had to play the Norfolk side on their home patch thanks to slightly inferior win ratio over the course of the season.

East London controlled possession in the opening phases with number eight Dan Bracken repeatedly effective in carrying the ball from the back of an advancing scrum.

Fly-half Ryan Billinghurst missed a penalty from distance on seven minutes that would have opened the scoring and it was against the run of play that Holt that opened the scoring.

The home scrum-half ghosted in from 30 metres to score under the posts with the try converted.

Four minutes later they added a second in the right corner which was not converted and they added a third on 34 minutes which was converted.

Just before half-time the score became a fairer reflection of play when a try by prop Mantas Urbonavicius made it 19-5 at the break.

Full-back Jack Roach was unlucky not to score in the left corner before Billinghurst narrowed the gap on 54 minutes with a penalty from distance.

Urbonavicius scored his second try which Billinghurst converted taking the score to 19-15.

Two decisive strikes from the London 3 Eastern Counties runners-up then secured the game. An unconverted try on 67 minutes extended the lead.

Then with East London pressing, a Holt turnover resulted in the home right winger running the length of the pitch to score under the posts.

East London failed to give up and a last minute try by forward Ben Stern was converted by Billinghurst for a final 31-22 scoreline.

Coach Gooby said: “Holt said this was their toughest game of the season and I am proud of all that we have achieved.

“We've improved so much and in the end it all came down to a few missed tackles which cost us the game.”

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