East London seal runners-up spot as emphatic first-half display sets up derby success
PUBLISHED: 14:00 04 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:15 04 April 2019
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East London secured second place in London Three Essex with a 29-17 derby win over Kings Cross Steelers at the Memorial Ground on Friday.
They played their best 40 minutes of rugby this season in the first half under the floodlights, with some great running play.
But the match ended on a sour note as Steelers’ number eight Jonathan Elvin was shown a red card after a brawl between the two sets of players.
East London coach Eddie Gooby said: “We cannot let one incident spoil what was a fantastic game between two great sides who both play very good rugby. We deserve our chance now to go for promotion.”
The game started badly for East London as a late high tackle by skipper Nick Parrott earned him a yellow card and Steelers took the lead with a penalty kick.
But front row forward and Mantas Urbonavicius added to his try tally for the season on 11 minutes and full back Max Stanyard converted.
And a kick over the top of an advancing home defence was gathered by outside centre Kevin O’Donoghue who touched down on 16 minutes to make it 12-3.
It was one-way traffic as left wing Bill Brown scored one of East London’s tries of the season on 21 minutes, going over in the left corner after scrum-half Will Brown collected the ball in his own half and burst clear to offload to Sean Cooper, who sped inside and found fly-half Ryan Billinghurst to set up the score.
The bonus point was secured on 26 minutes as sustained pressure by the pack was rewarded when flanker Simon Edscer dotted down under the posts and Stanyard converted before going off injured.
Replacement Ed Brown put the icing on the first-half cake, after brother Will took advantage of space in the Steelers defence with a quick tap penalty, to make it 29-3 at the break.
But the second half was a completely different game as Steelers scored two converted tries within 15 minutes of the restart.
Solid defensive work wrestled back control of the game and the East London line was not troubled again before the unsavoury end.
East London play host to Ilford Wanderers in their final match of the season on Saturday, looking to avenge an opening-day defeat to end on high.
East London: Hogan; Bourke; Urbonavicius; Millard; Kelly; Parrott; Edscer; Bracken; W Brown; Billinghurst; B Brown; McKenzie; O’Donoghue; Cooper; Stanyard; Coman; E Brown; Stern.