Tigers promise to return stronger after play-off heartache

Ely Tigers

Ely Tigers - Credit: Archant

Rugby Epping Upper Clapton 36 Ely Tigers 22

Ely have vowed to come back fighting next season after missing out on the chance of promotion to the London leagues.

A miserable start from Ely in Saturday’s promotion play-off against Clapton saw them concede five tries in the first half and, despite a spirited fight back, the deficit was too great for them to conquer.

The Tigers will return to the Eastern Counties Division 1 next season but promised to use the defeat “as an incentive” to win the league next time out.

Clapton were in ebullient mood from the outset and the hosts touched down barely five minutes in after forcing the ball wide to score in the corner.

The Tigers struggled to cope with Epping’s formidable attack and, 10 minutes later, the hosts touched down again for a second converted try.

Ely forced their way up the pitch and earned a penalty after Clapton were penalised for offside. Matt McCarthy stepped up and kicked the three points. But Clapton continued to pile on the points and ran over three more tries as Ely melted under the pressure.

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Ely finally started to get into the game as the first half came to a close, with Harry Rogerson taking a quick tap penalty to dart through a gap in the defence to score some much needed points.

The second half was all about the Tigers. They gained the advantage of the wind and used it well.

The visitors set up shop in the opposition twenty-two and were finally able to convert their possession into points when Mark Ryder crashed through a tackle and touched down for a converted try.

The only points Epping were able to muster in the second half came via a converted penalty. In the dying minutes of the game the Tigers were on the opposition five metre line. The ball came out from the ruck and a hole opened up for Joel Scott Paul, who touched down.