Manor travelled to Amersham, a venue that they had not won a league game at with a number of enforced changes from the side that had beaten Harpenden the previous week.
With warm weather and a hard pitch Manor kicked off the game and were soon penalised for a high tackle which allowed the hosts to kick for a lineout 30 meters from Manors line. Tom O’Connor managed to steal the Amersham throw in which allowed George Bradley to send the ball into touch on the halfway line.
Amersham were having the better of possession and territory and with Manor giving away a number of penalties, the visitors were finding it difficult to get outside their half. Manor though were controlling the lineouts and stole the Amersham throw in on a couple of occasions which gave them some welcomed possession.
From the first scrum of the game close to halfway Manor held the Amersham’s drive allowing Nick Horton to take the ball forward before moving it along his backline where Cameron Dutch had joined in the attack from fullback, he made ground before passing out wide to Elliot Brown on the right wing. He beat his man for pace, then went for the line and despite a last ditched tackle from the Amersham fullback which brought him to ground, he managed to stretch out and place the ball on the line for Manors first try of the game. Dutch took the touchline conversion and although he hit it on target it got held up in the breeze and fell short of the posts. After 8 minutes Manor held a 0 – 5 lead.
From the re-start Manor boxed kicked deep into the oppositions half, the kick was fielded by Amersham’s fullback who set off on a mazy run, finding a weak channel in Manors defensive line he took play deep into Manors 22 but when he went to ground his support was penalised for going over the top at the ruck and from the subsequent penalty Horton kicked the ball to halfway.
Amersham were still having the better of play and Manors cause wasn’t helped when they lost hooker Jon Berry to injury, prop Brad Barrell took his place in the front row.
Despite all of their possession the hosts couldn’t make the decisive break through Manors defence and when Manor were penalised for being offside they chose to take a shot at goal, but the attempt went wide and with 20 minutes played there was no change to the scoreboard.
Slowly Manor began to get some quality possession and made inroads with some good driving play but as they tried to force the attack a wayward pass was intercepted by an Amersham back who ran in from halfway to score a seven point try and give the hosts the lead 7 – 5 after 35 minutes.
Manors normally solid defensive line was being broken too many times allowing Amersham to keep up the pressure on the visitors and only a try saving tackle by Dutch after a storming run by Amersham’s No 8 prevented the home side form adding to their score.
Despite not having much possession it was Manor who finished the half the stronger of the two sides, they were camped on Amersham’s line where a number of powerful runs by Ollie Waugh, Tom Christopher and Jamie Millais were repelled by some excellent defending and as Manor strove for the last score of the half, they knocked the ball on which allowed Amersham to kick the ball dead bringing the first half to an end.
Amersham kicked off the second half and soon extended their lead when they again broke through Manors line and although the attack was stopped a few meters short of the line they went through the phases and eventually drove over for their second try of the match, again they were successful with the conversion and after 6 minutes of the second half they had extended their lead to 14 – 5. Manor now made some changes taking off Bradley and bringing on Ben Bolton-Smith into the midfield, Dutch moved back to his usual position of flyhalf.
From the restart Amersham again ran back at Manor but this time Manors defence was organised and when the ball carrier was taken to ground Rob Falls got over the ball and won a penalty. Horton took a quick tap and after making a few meters sent a kick deep into Amersham’s half, he was then taken out late winning a penalty.
Manor kicked to touch and won their lineout allowing substitute Billy Cosma to punch a hole in Amersham’s defence, Burrell and Falls both drove the ball further forward before Dutch tried to dart through a gap, this was soon closed but he managed to feed the supporting Brown, when he was brought to ground he managed to offload to the supporting O’Connor who had the strength to get over the line from 15 meters out despite attempts to stop him. Dutch was successful with the conversion and after 13 minutes Manor had reduced the deficit to 14 – 12.
Manor were now enjoying some quality possession and had noticeably stepped up their efforts with the forwards carrying well creating some space for Manors back to attack with pace. It wasn’t long before Manor soon took the lead and it came from the set piece. With a scrum awarded 8 meters out, Manors pack, who were just shading it at the scrums, drove the Amersham pack backwards and over the try line where Waugh claimed the score. Dutch added the conversion and after 27 minutes Manor lead 14 – 19.
With time ticking away Amersham were finishing the stronger of the two sides and only good defending by Brown, then Manor holding the ball up over the line, prevented Amersham from scoring. But with the home side exerting most of pressure their efforts were finally rewarded when they went over for what turned out to be the final score of the match. Luckily for Manor the Amersham kicker missed the relatively easy conversion attempt that would have given the hosts the lead, but with time almost up the scores were level at 19 all.
There was still time though for Amersham to launch one final effort to win the game and after a series of driving runs the ball was kicked into Manors dead ball area where Brown was first to the ball to deny Amersham a try. From the re-start, and in their attempt to win the game, Manor were in front of the kicker at the 22 drop out giving Amersham a scrum. Again they attacked Manors line and if their handling had been better they may well have crossed the line for a winning score, but Manor held on for a share of the spoils.
It was the first time that Manor had not lost at Amersham but the players knew that their performance was well below the standards they had set themselves the previous weeks. Their unbeaten record will be seriously tested next week with the visit of also unbeaten Southend who have made their ambitions clear that they want to gain promotion this season.