|April 8, 2017||2:00 pm||London 2 South West|
THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN!
On a balmy Saturday in early October the London Exiles travelled down the A3 to play Weybridge Vandals in the 3rd league game of the season – Vandals already had their first league win under their belt whilst the Exiles will still searching for that winning form that saw them crowned league winners last season. It became apparent from the Vandals website that the enemy held little respect for “the league new boys” and would be no match for an established SW London 2 club. This was exactly the fire that the giants on SW18 needed and even on the bus the atmosphere began to build.
“Exiles ready? Vandals ready?” and we were off. Exiles started well and it became apparent early on that this was going to be a war of attrition. The countless training sessions that James Love had put us through slowly started to tell as under heavy fire from a sizeable Vandals pack, the Exiles refused to take a backward step in defence. Unfortunately, the referee deemed that an exile had entered a ruck from the side and the Vandals were awarded a penalty that they duly slotted. 3-0 down, GAME ON.
If there is one thing that this club shows, it’s resilience and it didn’t take long to get one back from the Vandals not releasing under some text book rucking from the Exiles. Harry “Headgear” Cox stepped up and the ball sailed through the uprights. 3-3, START AGAIN. As the first half continued the exuberance and youth of the Exiles began to slowly claim dominance over the lumbering Vandals. The pack built pressure and despite being smaller in stature soon established dominance in both in the scrum and line out. They provided the kind of platform that our enigmatic backline can turn into pure poetry and the Exiles began marching up the pitch into the enemies 22. The stage was set, it was time for the Exiles to show their pedigree. A great steal from James Ellis jumping at 2 and a responsive driving maul resulted in the first crossing of the whitewash, Jack “The General” Read touching down with Coxy slotting the extras from out wide. 10 – 3. LETS KICK ON. Despite the Vandals being unable to break the Exiles defensive line, a lull kicked in during the final 15 minutes of the first half and this coupled with a sceptical yellow card to James Ellis meant that the first half ended 10-9. EVERYTHING TO PLAY FOR.
Words were said, strategy was put in place and the Exiles came out firing for the 2nd half. There had already been a glimmer of the Exiles fitness during the first half but during the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half it became apparent that the Vandals would be unable to match. The sun was out and the turf was pristine which meant one thing, champagne rugby. The Exiles began to play the expansive game that we so enjoyed last season and it didn’t take long for the enemy to throw in the towel and the points began to start rolling in. Before long the Exiles has stolen the ball and after a few phases from the piggies, the ball was sent out wide down through the hands and Will Banbury sliced through the Vandals back line and fed Ben Sawbridge on a great supporting line that saw him go under the sticks. Coxy added 2 more points. 17 – 9, FIND ANOTHER GEAR. Soon after this, the Exiles found themselves yet again in the Vandals 22 due to a perfectly weighted Will Sandbach kick. Our superior lineout showed again leading to the unstoppable Matt Sheppard crashing over for our second rolling maul try of the game. 24 – 9, WE WANT MORE! Yet again our defence held strong as the Vandals battered our backline. However the team were resilient and the Vandals were unable to penetrate.
Time for some fresh legs. On came Turkey who immediately showed that Cookie may have some competition on his hands. Having built a number of phases the ball went down the line to him, who calmly took his man on the outside, chipped the fall back, collected the ball and although he was tackled short of the line, he was able to get the ball away to Ben Sawbridge, following on a great support line, to score his second try of the game. 31 – 9. THIS IS EXILES RUGBY. The final try came from some the man, the myth, the legend, Paz Rabindran who showed his sniping ability close to the Vandals line and snuck in under the posts. 38-9 THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN.
Although the Exiles did continue to play like a team possessed, a lapse in concentration in defence late in the game led to the Vandals scoring a soft try and there was much reprimanding under the posts for sloppy defence. 38-16 KEEP IT TOGETHER.
Soon after the referee blew his whistle and the Exiles recorded a win which was truly deserved. There was one notable absence… after claiming that we was hitting a purple patch, Sandy has left his flair in London 3, with a much more conservative kicking and PASSING game. Great to register our first London 2 win, even better to take it in the way we did and earning the bonus point.
WE MARCH ON!