Soggy leaders muddy marvels
Eastern Counties Division Two Ely 13 Haverhill 7 SUPERB running play helped the league leaders start the year with a hard-fought win over title-contenders Haverhill in a Saturday mud-bath. An already saturated ground was made worse by heavy rain througho
Ely 13 Haverhill 7
SUPERB running play helped the league leaders start the year with a hard-fought win over title-contenders Haverhill in a Saturday mud-bath.
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An already saturated ground was made worse by heavy rain throughout the match.
The Tigers took an early lead when Daniel Coulson made a quick tap-and-run from a penalty and the ball was moved out to Graham Park, who defied the conditions by accelerating 45 metres to score in the corner.
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His dive was accompanied by a slide which took him and the attached defender well beyond the line.
Haverhill's powerful pack caused the home side problems, but Ely's sharp backs gave them the edge.
The Tigers went 10-0 up after a beautifully executed move. Haverhill kicked poorly after intense pressure, and full-back Carl Ward caught and countered with speed, racing 40 metres down a narrow line on the wing, with technically perfect in-and-out running, before touching down in the corner.
Haverhill hit back with a long kick and after sustained pressure they passed across the pitch but dropped at the crucial moment. But Ely failed to react and the ball was regathered and run in unopposed from eight metres.
The game continued with the home side marginally on top, and when they attacked with a long kick-on in the mud, the Haverhill defence was caught out.
From the resultant pressure, they conceded a penalty which Ed Fahy kicked to give Ely a 13-7 lead at half-time.
The light got worse and visibility was hindered by fog which competed for density with the steam from the players' bodies. But the Tigers handled the ball superbly and ran at every opportunity.
Sam Sanders-Hewett and Gavin Ross kicked well for territory and Coulson and Lee Kupyn had excellent games.
With 20 minutes to go, Ely brought on the fresh legs of Will Watts, Chris Day and Karim Faisali, and continued to attack with intense effort and quality, until the game ended with the Tigers camped close to the Haverhill line.