Tigers undone by battling Southwold

Ely Tigers 5 Southwold 16

A BATTLING performance from Southwold saw them outmuscle a tiring Ely side on Saturday, consigning them to their third defeat in four matches.

Despite taking the lead with a Karl Hayler try in a keenly fought contest at the Downham Road ground, the Tigers were pegged back for much of the second half by an aggressive Southwold side that eventually ran over two late tries for the win.

Karl Hayler’s side enjoyed a purple patch at the start of the year, but have suffered a slump in form of late, with just one victory in four matches to show for their efforts.

The Tigers now sit in sixth place in the Eastern Counties Division 1 with their final match this season set to be played at lowly Crusaders, who are fighting to avoid relegation.

Captain Karl Hayler said: “We were fairly well on top in the first half and we maintained that level in the second half but they really seemed to raise theirs.

“We had the benefit of the slope in the first half but I don’t think we made enough of it, which Southwold did to great effect in the second.”

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The persistent dry conditions around Ely made the EOSA pitch hard for Saturday’s match and the blustering winds made high balls a challenge.

Although neither side was able to take full control in the first half, an excellent phase of play on the stroke of half-time saw a driving maul power to within touching distance of the line, with captain Hayler on hand to crash over.

Unfortunately for Ely however, the conversion was missed and they closed the half 5-0 ahead.

The Tigers looked comfortable in the opening 10 minutes of the second half as they attempted to build on their lead but the wind and slope quickly started to work against them and Southwold came to the fore.

Two tries and a couple of forced penalties gave the visitors the edge and the sapping effect of the slope left Ely with little way back into the match.