Exiles eek out a draw
Marlins usher in youth, and face up to formidable opposition
Marlins were awarded a competitive fixture at home, against a London South West 2 -second team, as Battersea were only able to show their .....side (Ironside) on the day.
The exiles were slow to start, and as one Marlin player noted, the first warm up of the season was duly completed with three games to spare! Marlins started well from the kick off, and put the visitors under pressure, this forced errors by the visitors , leading to set pieces. The veteran props Dave Mole and Tom White were joined by Fisher school leaver NickWard, and ensured a stable platform from which to attack, against a much bigger and seasoned pack, who knew when and how to turn on the Martin Johnson screw, and the PJFRFC pack did well to rise above the challenge. Will Walters, did his usual magic, distributing well to Tom Parker at 10, who danced his way past the Exiles back row, to score under the post and convert, to lead 7-0. Marlins, kept up the pressure from the restart, keeping ball in hand and recycling the ball between backs and forwards, though the visitors were begining to show glimpse of their preferred style of rugby, competing at rucks and exploiting the black hole behind the ruck, and utilizing their big runners to run off the edges off rucks and mauls. PJFRFC kept their composure, and penalized the Exiles for indiscipline at rucks, and won a few consecutive penalties. PJFRFC Marlins, dominated the line-outs through Kian McAnulty- another recent Fisher school leaver, doing well to compete against a couple of senior second row players. Good line-out ball enabled Marlins to exploit the width of the field, Through Tom Parker, Jamie Velderman and Kareem McKenzie, who zig zagged past the full back to score out wide and lead 12-0. This seemed to jolt the visitors into action, and some poor tackling by PJFRFC forwards, gifted the Exiles with space to run off rucks, and whilst Marlins did well to spread out from a ruck, the Exiles utilized the black hole behind the ruck and ran straight lines through PJFRFC defence. This strong running was rewarded with a converted try under the post, 12-7 to PJFRFC. Exiles continued to exploit PJFRFC’s poor policing of rucks, and poor tackling to make easy yards, and score out wide and draw 12-12. The last 10 minutes of the first half were fiercely competed, with both teams keen to finish on a high. Rowing Mawer and Dan Wright kept up the pressure at breakdowns. The Exiles, had momentum on their side, and utilized their big centers to create an overlap, who did well to off load in contact to their forwards, who in turn scored out-wide and lead for the first time, 17-12. PJFRFC looked to their Talisman Kareem for inspiration, and did well to keep their composure under pressure. They also had Trumper, in full-back to thank, as he was called on to make a couple of try saving tackles. The Marlins forwards performed amiably under the leadership of Dan Wright, and Kian kept delivering quick ball off the top, and Tom Parker released Kareem out wide, who ran 60 yards, leaving a trail of opposition players in his tracks, to score under the post, though PJFRFC were unable to add the conversion, and draw at half time 17-17.
The second half saw more youth introduced, and Milan Patel another Fisher school leaver joined the back row. Milan, and Nick Ward, looked prolific in open play and aided by some wise choice of words by Dan Wright and Dave Mole, kept taking the fight to the Exiles, in fact PJFRFC were camped in the Exiles 22, for 15-20 minutes, but failed to convert this pressure into points, due to poor decision making and excellent defence by the Exiles. The Exiles were quick on the counter-attack and also were quite apt at turning over ball, utilizing their big centers and forwards, to recover from this pressure. PJFRFC did well to defend a couple of rolling Mauls, and Tom White with Dan Wright, did especially well to decipher the trajectory and hold the ball up. The ensuing scrum was won and the ball spun wide, though Exiles did well to pick out the midfield move, and turn over ball from centers, and counter attack through their big centers and back row, to score out wide, and lead 22-17. PJFRFC were not about to give up , and made a couple of substitution to balance youth with wisdom. This paid off, with rowing Mawer, teaming up with Milan in back row, putting pressure at breakdowns and forcing errors, and in turn penalizing the Exiles. Kian took full advantage, and ball off the top, down the hands to Ollie on the wing, and recycled back to Reem, who scored his hat-trick, again under the post. Though PJFRFC were again unable to convert, thus score 22-22. The last 10 minutes of the game, like the first half was fiercely competed, with PJFRFC wanting to run out wide, and the Exiles wanting to recycle ball through their forwards, and with emotions and hand bags riding high, the game came to an amicable end. The final score was a fair reflection of both teams efforts, and PJFRFC will be pleased with their performance against a skilled and seasoned Exiles team. Marlins have dropped to 4th place with a game in hand, though with only 4 points between the second and fourth positioned teams, Marlins look to end the season on a high.