The Ellingham and Ringwood RFC Colts team were asked to start this key league fixture at full intensity and they did just that. In blustery but surprisingly dry conditions the Colts piled the pressure on Vectis from the first whistle. The combination of line speed from our three-quarters and some thunderous tackles in midfield by Paddy Johnson gave Vectis little or no time on the ball. The opposition fielded a large pack and counter-rucked well throughout the game. They were matched and ultimately subdued by the work-rate and commitment of the Ellingham pack, in particular Nathan Searle and Zach Lillis who set the bar in this respect. Quality ball generates opportunity and Zach Leishman switched play from open to blind off a quick ruck, fixing three defenders and finding Sam Harrison bursting into the line. Sam held up the last defender and released Adam Kalim for, what the kind of try that looks easy but was just perfectly executed. Zach kicked an excellent conversion in strong wind. Sadly, Adam damaged his shoulder soon after and was unable to continue. Ben Evans moved on to the right wing, put in another gritty performance and was unlucky not to score later in the game.
After absorbing some pressure from Vectis and their big runners, Ellingham turned the ball over and showed NZ style how to turn defence into attack. Quick runners and strong carriers moved play from our 22 to Vectis 22 in three phases. Stephen Whitehouse, who carried hard and effectively through out the match, powered his way over by the posts at the end of the first quarter. Zach converted for the extra two points. At this stage Vectis began to neutralise our attack and Ellingham were forced to play more laterally than planned. This led to errors and it felt as though the momentum was swinging in favour of the hosts. A high swirling kick was superbly collected by Josh Balais running at full tilt. The ball was quickly recycled and Aaron Moritzen made one of his trademark, opportunistic runs, scored and the deadlock was broken.
Ellingham finished the first half 19-0 up.
The home side used the wind well in the second half, regularly pushing Ellingham back deep into their own territory. The forwards adapted well and deployed their pick and go game to drive at the heart of Vectis. David Edmunds and James Morris excel in this area and repeatedly find holes around the fringes of the breakdown, getting in behind the opposition’s defence. David also deserves credit for his line out throwing which keeps getting stronger and stronger. Andrew Rollett was unbeaten in the air today and the 5 man lineout work from James, Zach, Andrew, Nathan and Zach is tremendous.
Despite playing consistently well the game was fairly even balanced as the match wore on. Vectis repeatedly asked question of Ellingham’s defence but the visitor’s answered with distinction. The forwards drove the ball up the pitch and the backs, rightly, demanded quick ball. Whenever Vectis stifled the attack Robert Wakefield was there in support linking the efforts of the forwards with the ambition of the backs. The team showed maturity in retaining faith in their approach and being patient in waiting for a chance to strike again. That came on the 54 minute mark as Sam was delivered quick ball in a wide channel. Sam did the rest, going over in the corner.
It had been 30 minutes since the team’s last score and this gives a good impression of how the team had to fight for every point.
The final score was a reminder of how tenacious play can win games; Ted Johnson, who had harried his opposite number all game, pounced on a loose ball from a Vectis scrum and strolled under the posts. Zach converted the the extra two points. Vectis named Owen Dingle their Man of the Match after a barnstorming display from the number 8 including a 40 metre run, countless carries and immense defence.
This match was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests. To score five tries and concede none in a tight game reflects both the passion and the precision of this team. The Ellingham Colts are a team of massive potential and Ellingham’s captain, Louis Harling deserves a lot of credit for the way he inspires and improves the players around him.
Final score: Vectis RFC Colts 0-31 Ellingham and Ringwood RFC Colts
Match reports courtesy of Ellingham & Ringwood RFC