Battling Tigers lose out to league leaders Ipswich


- Credit: Archant

Rugby Ely 12 Ipswich YM 20

ELY slipped out of third position in the league after a valiant but ultimately fruitless effort against league-leaders Ipswich on Saturday.

John Dibb’s men have been hot on the heels of the Eastern Counties Division 1 two top for most of the season but a recent dip in form has seen Newmarket regain ground on the Tigers and usurp them in third place.

Ricky Neale, with his first start for two years after returning from injury, caught the Ipswich kick-off and showed commanding strength to storm through three Ipswich and put pressure on to the visiting side.

Despite the aggressive start, a few phases later Ipswich were awarded a scrum resulting from one of many dropped balls the Tigers managed during the first half. At the breakdown, Ely gave away a penalty for hands in the ruck and Ipswich kicked cleanly for the first score of the game.

To add yet more woe to the static Tigers, flanker Lee Coulson was sent to the bin for a trip on the sprinting Ipswich inside centre.

The first half continued in much the same fashion for Ely, long periods of sustained possession and pressure ending with both the forwards and backs dropping the ball. More penalties and a couple of tries from Ipswich saw the Tigers facing a twenty point deficit at the break, without so much as a score on the board.

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Opening the second half, the Tigers kicked and retrieved the ball and began to play with the fluidity of their early season endeavours.

The forwards started to dominate the set piece and, early in the second half, a catch and drive line out developed into a maul the Ipswich forwards were unable to halt. Luke Cornwall broke from the back to score in the corner.

As Ipswich became frustrated with their host’s improved performance, they had a player red carded for kicking an opponent in the head.

The Tigers continued to press but the league leader’s defensive performance was excellent for the entire game, despite being down to 14 men.

Man of the match Mitchell Kennett’s strength allowed him to crash through the gain line and score Ely’s second try which was then converted by Sam Benzie.