Category: Match Reports

Match Report: Belsize Park 22 – 26 London Nigerian

London Nigerian maintained their winning start to the season in a tight affair after out gunning Belsize Park at Regents Park.

Belsize started the faster of the two sides but Nigerians knew if they stuck to their pattern it would eventually work for them…and it did. Nigerians gradually grew into the game where the scrum once again laid the foundation for maximum for victory and they secured maximum reward with tries from Mike O’Connell, Fraser James, George Froud and a penalty try for the pack.

Belsize raced to a 15-0 lead in the opening quarter after their dangerous back 3 exploited the wide channels and also had the better of the kicking game. A score in the corner was followed by a penalty kick and a further converted try after a neat offload out of a tackle. Nigerians hadn’t seen much of the ball at this stage and this had to change if they were to find a way back into the match. Nigerians dominant scrum provided an opportunity for the away side to apply some pressure, as did some Belsize ill-discipline. A charged down kick by Mike O’Connell on the Belsize 22m line was well collected and finished by the flanker to open the Eagles account 15-5. Nigerians began to keep hold of possession better after this and it wasn’t long before they were back within touching distance when Fraser James crashed over several phases after a driving maul from a lineout provided the go-forward.

At this point our resident journo’s memory fails slightly but the WhatsApp in game feed says Belsize score in the corner for 22-12. Undeterred by going further behind Nigerians piled on the pressure towards the end of the half and spent several phases trying to force their way over the Belsize try line. However, the Belsize defensive line stood firm and held out until half time, much to the delight of the home crowd. 22-12 half time.

The second half was another tight affair with neither team really able to get a hold of the game for the next 20 minutes or so. Joe Harris provided some inspiration with a good break providing some go forward in the midfield and Nigerians seemed to be peaking at just the right time as we came into the last quarter of the match. The Nigerians crowd got excited when O’Connell got over the Belsize try line for a second time but was this time held up for a 5m scrum. Nigerians then produced their best scrum of the game to walk over the line and were duly awarded a penalty try 22-19.

A Belsize yellow came swiftly after for repeated offenses and was shortly followed by another to take the home side down to 13 giving the Eagles their chance for the win with another 5m scrum and the put in. Belsize held firm at scrum time and forced a penalty of their own and it seemed as if Nigerians might fall short with just a few minutes remaining. However, after Belsize gave away another penalty on the just outside the Nigerian 22m line quick thinking from Freddie Chalke set George Froud up to score a thriller of a match-winning try by outpacing several defenders from within his own half. Nigerians held on for the final minute to win 22-26 and stay second in the table on points difference. Next up is Hammersmith at Heston this Saturday 15:00 KO.

Match Report: Chiswick 18 – 22 London Nigerian

Eagles go balls-out for the win!

Conditions couldn’t have been much better for the fixture away to Chiswick on Saturday, and the teams seemed fairly evenly matched in the early exchanges. Nigerians were keen to make a statement against a side who had played the last few seasons in London 1 and this was personified by several big early tackles made by Mike Floyd. However, a missed penalty kick to touch provided Chiswick’s back 3 with the platform to punish the Eagles with a free flowing move from the half way line.

Mike O’Connell saw yellow after taking one for the team and killing the ball in a dangerous position, which was kicked by Chiswick for 3 more points and Nigerians found themselves 8-0 down. Rob Dowden’s restarts were superb throughout the day and allowed the Eagles to re-gain possession from a number of kick offs. Nigerians first try of the day shortly followed after a 5m scrum allowed Sean Baker to drive over from short range (8-5).

Adam Foley was shortly awarded Nigerians second yellow card for a dangerous challenge meaning the eagles found themselves down to 13 men for at least five minutes. Chiswick capitalised on this and scored 10 unanswered points in quick succession making the score 18-5. However, Nigerians were playing well and were soon within touching distance after scoring two tries in the left hand corner. Firstly, Mike O’Connell was on the end of a well worked move by Nathan Alliston. Which was followed up by a driving maul from a close range line out, finished by Alex Clayton. Half time 18-15.

The second half was another bruising affair for the Eagles as David Wilson and Adam Foley were forced off, on stepped Chairman Joe Mac and coach Joe Mbu. Chiswick began to dominate possession and build pressure in the Nigerian ’22 but just couldn’t seem to find a way through the resolute defence, Captain Esberger putting more than just his body on the line several times.

10 minutes from time Nigerians sealed the smash and grab win after another good scrum allowed blindside O’Connell to put pressure on the Chiswick back row and intercept a pass to go over the line for his second try. Full time 18-22. A well deserved win for the Eagles with newly found confidence at the scrum and a collective defensive effort laying the foundations.

Match Report: London Nigerian 48-12 Tabard

Having put in a good performance on the mini-tour to North Dorset the Playas were in fine spirits ahead of our first league game of the season at home to Tabard RFC. With Heston unavailable the match was played at the brand new 3G surface at the Park Club in Acton, also our pre-season training venue. After narrowly avoiding a post-protector crisis, thanks to a local groundsman and some hustling by the Playas, Nigerians started the stronger of the two sides with Captain Charlie Esberger crashing over for the first try of the season after continued pressure and several penalties led to a Tabard yellow.

Nigerian’s capitalised on the extra man advantage as the pack scrummaged well whilst the backs were fluid in attack with Matt Blackett controlling the game well at scrum half. Nigerians headed into the break 29-0.

Tabard made us work hard for the lead in the first half and it came at a cost injuries to James Cox, Fraser James and Sam Cawley-Tolchard forced Nigerians into several re-jigs of the back line just after half time. Shortly after a missed tackle in midfield allowed Tabard to score a well worked try after a fine individual break from former Playa Mark Salteras.

The Nigerian scrum continued to perform well and was shortly rewarded with a penalty try which was quickly followed by two tries from winger George Froud. Tabard began to retain more of the ball in the last quarter and Nigerian ill discipline increased the penalty count with a yellow card following for Esberger and a score for the visitors to finish the game off. The game finished 48-12 with Nigerians good value for the win but with still work to do ahead of Chiswick away this weekend.

Match Report: London Nigerian 18 – 11 Harrow

London Nigerian were desperate to turn their form around as they welcomed Harrow to Heston on Saturday.

The game started brilliantly for the home side, a lineout on halfway was gathered by the forwards and the maul rumbled up close to the opposition 22. As it went to ground the ball was spun to fly half Chris Morgan, he took the ball flat and at pace, breaking the blitz defence, drawing the fullback to put centre Nathan Alliston in under the post. Morgan then converted. 7-0.

A characteristic of LNRFC’s season has been the inability to maintain pressure for long periods. They immediately let Harrow gain territory with needless penalties and eventually the visitors were in a good enough position to narrow the lead to four. 7-3.

LNRFC responded well. They used their superiority in the line out and maul to make ground. Harrow were penalised and the penalty was converted by Morgan for 10-3. Unfortunately London Nigerian conceded multiple penalties to give away territories at the end of the half and Harrow narrowed the lead once more, 10-6.

The second half began and was scrappy to begin with. Both sides trying to maintain possession and territory. LNRFC began to have more of the ball and were using forward runners effectively to gain ground. Chris Morgan was heavily involved and eventually showed pace and a neat dummy to dive over. 15-6.

Nigerian were keen to gain an advantage however needless penalties after the restart saw Harrow retain possession. The scrum was struggling so the visitors piled on the pressure with their set piece. To make matters worse Alliston was then sin binned for not releasing. Harrow used their man advantage effectively with another scrum setting the foundation for their number 8 to crash over. 15-11.

Knowing that they needed to hold on to the ball whilst down to 14 men, LNRFC kept the ball in the forwards. Drives round the fringes of rucks and pods of runners were effective with Sean Baker and Jon Hardisty making particularly strong carries. Once Alliston returned Nigerian won a penalty in front of the Harrow posts for Morgan to slot over. 18-11.

Harrow were determined to gain at least a draw from the game and LNRFC had to defend doggedly in the final few minutes. They didn’t help themselves when the home scrum half, thinking the game was over, kicked the ball out 5 metres from his own line with minutes to play. Thankfully the defence was strong and the game ened 18-11.

Man of the match was Chris Morgan for controlling the game from fly half, finishing with 13 points and setting up the other try. London Nigerian finish 2016 on Saturday with a trip to Hammersmith & Fulham. Please come show your support.

Match Report: Tabard RFC 20 – 17 London Nigerian

London Nigerian suffered a 2nd consecutive defeat in the league away at Tabard RFC.

London Nigerian travelled to Radlett for the game versus Tabard RFC. Both teams were in a similar position in the table before the game. LNRFC started the brighter, putting Tabard under pressure with measured phase play and strong runners in Moorby and Foley. However they could not capitalise and penalties let Tabard off the hook.

The first half was then one of defence for the visitors. Tabard had the majority of the ball and the Nigerians conceded numerous penalties to increase the pressure on their own line, which eventually led to Sean Baker heading to the bin. Tabard missed one attempt at the posts from these penalties when LNRFC were down to 14. Though LNRFC came back into the game as the half wore on it remained 0-0 at the break.

In the second half, London Nigerian improved their attack and scored very soon after the restart. Strong forward runs caused confusion in the Tabard defence. Multiple phases saw an eventual overlap created and Fraser James dived like a salmon to score the first try in the corner. Morgan superbly converted. 0-7.

Unfortunately, and in what was going to become a disappointing pattern, LNRFC allowed Tabard to reply with a try of their own. 7-7. LNRFC had control at both the scrum and the lineout, disrupting Tabard on their own ball on multiple occasions. It seemed as if London Nigerian were beginning to gain a grip on the game, Jack Flanagan and Sean Baker were making holes in the defence time and time again and created great field position for the backs to attack. A fine crossfield kick from Cox was gathered by Moorby and forced a high tackle. The penalty was kicked to touch and from the line out the initial maul made ground. Once disrupted the ball was fed back to Flanagan who sneaked in at the corner. 12-7.

Ill discipline meant that LNRFC could not increase their lead. Another sin bin immediately followed the restart and Tabard kicked the penalty to narrow the lead to two. The game was incredibly topsy turvy. London Nigerian were continuing to make breaks with Sean Baker a real threat. One impressive break created a fine platform which led to Caolan Cotter crossing the line to score. 17-10. LNRFC were dominant for the next 10 mounting serious pressure on Tabard, however could not come away with points after a penalty attempt was missed. It was from here the match unraveled. Tabard took advantage of Nigerian handling errors to regain possession and poor tackling saw them score under the posts. 17-17. With seconds remaining, LNRFC ill discipline proved to be costly as they were penalised at a breakdown. Tabard converted the penalty to win 20-17.

A disappointing defeat in a game that seemed there to be won. Positives can be taken from the performance in the scrum as well as individual performances from Flanagan and Baker. LNRFC are away on 26th November to Harpenden.

Match Report: London Nigerian 25 – 47 H.A.C.

London Nigerian suffered a sobering loss at home against H.A.C.

After a morale boosting victory against Welwyn, LNRFC welcomed old rivals H.A.C. to Heston. Unfortunately the game did not start well as the visitors found space wide to score the first try. They then followed that up with a penalty.

When Nigerian had the ball they completed their phases well. The Playas first try came as first Moorby broke the line to get in behind H.A.C., the ball was then recycled as backs and forwards both made yards. Eventually Freddie Chalked took the ball on the loop around to score in the corner. 8-5. Mistakes meant that Nigerian could not turn the game around as H.A.C. scored two quick tries. 18-5.

In the final 15 mins of the half the London Nigerian forwards began to over power the visitors’ pack. The rolling maul was gaining huge ground and led to a sin bin for a H.A.C. 2nd row. From the penalty the decision was made to kick. The effort hit the post to be gathered by Jack Flanagan, 5 yards out and he could not be stopped from crashing over. 18-10. LNRFC completed the half on top and finished by scoring a penalty after H.A.C. were reduced to 13 men. HT score 18-13.

The halftime discussion was about maintaining the intensity from the end of the first half. However the half started poorly as the 13 men of H.A.C. moved the ball quickly to find territory from which they won and scored a penalty, 21-13. When they returned to a full 15 the visitors began to threaten, their outside backs making the most of poor defensive organisation from LNRFC. They scored two successive tries to compound the home sides poor start to the half. 35-13. LNRFC did rally as they used the wind to kick deep from a penalty. The lineout was won cleanly and Joe Mac continued his scoring form to touch down from the back of the rolling maul. 35-20.

The defensive cohesion just wasn’t there for London Nigerian, tackles were missed and H.A.C. scored two more tries, converting one. A small positive for the Playas came when a scrum in the opposition 22 was rumbled blind by Sean Baker who fed Olly Cox. Cox showed his skills to offload out of the back of his hand to Zac Boffey, who scored in the corner for the bonus point try and a small consulation. Final Score 47-25

A disappointing result for London Nigerian and showed the work that needs to be done. There is no game this coming weekend, LNRFC next play away at Tabard on November 19th.




Match Report: Welwyn 12 – 24 London Nigerian

London Nigerian returned from a long away trip with a bonus point win

LNRFC travelled to Welwyn to put last week’s disappointing loss behind them. The message all week had been about raising the level of intensity and keeping play simple. It was clear this had been taken on board from as early as the warm up. When the game kicked off the Playas were committed in defence and attacked as a team. The first try came when a penalty was kicked to touch, the lineout was won and the rolling maul saw Joe Macdonald score.

LNRFC were playing their best rugby for some time, maintaining possession with phases from forwards and backs and the second try was the perfect example of this. The forwards gained ground by running hard with support and eventually the ball was spun wide for fullback Chris Morgan to join the line and find space to score. The wide pitch gave the Playas’ backs the opportunity to exploit holes in the midfied and Adam Foley capitalised, breaking the line and then leaving the opposition full back grasping at air with a wonderful side step. Morgan converted- 0-17.

It had been a fast and ferocious start to the match both in attack and defence and perhaps this was why in the second 20 minutes LNRFC’s intensity dropped. Welwyn gained confidence as London Nigerian’s tackling became more passive and they gave away a multitude of penalties. Their first try was a direct result of consecutive penalties as one of their large ball carriers crashed over and it was then converted. LNRFC couldn’t seem to lift their game and missed tackles saw a second try for Welwyn as they scored out wide. Half time score of 12-17.

Coach Joe Mbu had some strong words on accountability for the team at half time. They appeared to have an effect, especially in the forwards as the LNRFC scrum began to take control. The bonus point try for the Playas came from a Welwyn error. After multiple attempts at the line  earlier in the half LNRFC decided to kick a penalty. Morgan’s effort was unsuccesful however Welwyn’s player stepped over the try line before grounding to leave London Nigerian with a 5 metre scrum. Number 8 Sean Baker broke from the scrum offloaded to Freddie Chalke whose fine pass allowed winger Joe Harris to score in the corner, converted by Morgan, 12-24.

The closing moments of the game were disrupted by a serious looking injury to a Welwyn player. The game was moved to an adjacent pitch for the final 5 minutes. The game restarted with LNRFC on their own 5 metre line. Valiant defence saw the home side driven back again and again and the game finished 12-24.

A satisfying victory for the Playas after a tough start to the season. Man of the match was scrum half Freddie Chalke foor a brilliant all round performance in both defence and attack.

Next week London Nigerian are at home against H.A.C. It’s a fixture that has produced a number of exciting games over the years so please come to Heston to show your support.



Match Report: Old Haberdashers 31 – 7 London Nigerian

On Saturday London Nigerian travelled to Borehamwood to play Old Haberdashers for the 5th game of the season.

London Nigerian arrived at the Old Haberdashers grounds full of confidence and excited about playing on the wide and well tended pitch before them. However, it was an inauspicious start to the day when during pre-match lineout practice prop Nathan Tomlinson suffered a gash to the lip that required medical attention and ruled him out of the contest. Despite this injury, which brought front row replacement Ed Vaughan into the starting lineup, a smooth and error-free warm up left the players eager for the match to kick off.

It was clear from the very first play that this was going to be a tough fought match as strong Habs runners repeatedly sought to break through gaps in the Nigerian defence. Although training in recent weeks had focussed on defensive organisation, it wasn’t long before London Nigerian found themselves spread too thin across the wide pitch. This allowed the Old Haberdashers No.8 to breakthrough a gap in the midfield resulting in an early try for the home side.

The strength and pace of some of the Habs players, particularly at 8, 12 and 13, would regularly seek to exploit these gaps throughout the match. It took too long for the Nigerian players to adjust to this tactic and through this method resulting in a further two tries to Old Haberdashers in the first half.

Throughout the first half London Nigerian were able to string together multiple phases, penetrating into the opposition 22. This was helped by the capable kicking of Olly Cox who repeatedly punished Habs penalties by pushing them back to their own 5m line. However, skilled lineout opposition and all-round defence meant that London Nigerian were never able to come away from any of these sorties with points. By halftime the score was 19-0 in the home sides favour; but the discussion at half time was positive with Nigerians confident they could gain a foothold in the game if they could be more clinical in the red zone.

The second half started much the same as the first with strong runners and consistent phase play drawing out the best of both sides defences. This led to long periods in the second half grinding in to a stalemate. The physicality of the game soon showed with winger Joe Harris having to leave the field with a gash to the head. Unfortunately, due to injuries in the wider squad, this meant flanker Caolan Cotter had to move into the backs as replacement forward Will Jackson came off the bench. This reorganisation highlighted the strength and versatility of the Nigerians players as the team began once again to knock on the opposition try line. Despite a tenacious defence from Habs, repeated attacks soon left enough of a gap for Adam Foley to wriggle his way out of a tackle and over the whitewash.

Unfortunately, London Nigerian weren’t able to build on this momentum, and many subsequent attacks were snuffed out by a well organised home defence. Towards the end of the match as players on both sides began to tire, Habs were able to capitalise on further gaps to score two further tries including a well worked improvised try 5 minutes from the whistle. With the final play of the game it looked like Habs would be able to put one last try past London Nigerians but for a last ditch tackle causing a knock-on and finishing the game.

The game finished 31-7 to Old Haberdashers although the score line did not reflect how close and hard fought the contest was for long periods of the match. Next week sees a break from the league as London Nigerian travel to Crowborough to start their cup run of the 2016-17 season.

Match Report: London Nigerian 25 – 31 Hammersmith & Fulham

London Nigerian suffered defeat in their first home game of the 2016/17 season.

LNRFC welcomed Hammersmith & Fulham to Heston on Saturday. Unfortunately the welcome extended to the pitch as the home side started slowly. An early H&F penalty was kicked for touch in the LNRFC 22 and the quick ball off the top saw Hammersmith’s winger touch down in the opposite corner.

The Playas responded and earned a penalty inside the H&F half which was kicked for 3 points. It didn’t see the overall momentum change however as the away side were more aggressive in the loose and capitalised to score again in the corner. 3-12. The scores worsened with another try for the visitors. 3-17.

It was clear that when LNRFC played well and held on to the ball they were effective. Continued phases  gained territory and eventually saw scrum half James ‘Penfold’ Martin spot a gap to cross the line and make the score 8-17. The half didn’t finish well though as a third H&F try made the score 8-24.

Some stern words were said at half time and the Playas responded to them. In the second half Hammersmith barely left their half as LNRFC used the ball much more effectively. The wind helped and a penalty found touch deep inside the opposition 22. The lineout was taken well and despite prop Joe Macdonald initially grounding the ball on the wrong line he managed to crawl the final few metres to score – 13-24. The pressure from London Nigerian continued and Sean Baker, on his first appearance of the season, showed his strength and crashed over from the rear of a scrum. The try was converted to bring the scores to within 4 points, 20-24.

It seemed only a matter of time before the home team took the lead, however errors and a rising penalty count let H&F back into the game. With the clock ticking down on the second half they used a rare spell of possession to create space for their winger to score their fourth try of the game, 20-31. LNRFC were still confident of getting something from the game and with a few minutes remaining great hands on the blindside saw captain Charlie Esberger run in for the home side’s fourth, 25-31. Unfortunately that was the final score. LNRFC gained 2 bonus points from the result but now that the start they made to the game meant they left themselves with too much to do.

Next week sees the Playas face familiar opposition, Belsize Park, in Regents’ Park. This is a great opportunity for as many supporters, young and old, to show their support for the team. Check out our Supporter’s Day event here.

Match Report: Stockwood Park RFC 10-17 London Nigerian

LNRFC overcome conditions and a spirited home side to record their first win of the season in London NW 2.

London Nigerian journeyed to Stockwood Park by coach accompanied by supporters for their opening game of the season. After a pre-season of baking hot training sessions the conditions on game day were in stark contrast; wet, grey and windy.

Both sides couldn’t keep handling errors out of their game and in the initial moments the Playas had to defend stoutly as Stockwood saw the majority of the ball. After 20 minutes good defensive line speed from LNRFC saw the home side spill the ball just inside their half and Freddie Chalke gathered the ball and beat the covering full back for pace to score.

Stockwood created chances of their own and had most of the territory in the first half, they missed an opportunity to reduce the lead to 2 points after a penalty was missed. This proved costly as LNRFC kicked a penalty into the corner and the driving maul was used to great effect, Jack Flanagan touching down for a 10-0 lead at half time.

After the break Stockwood gained momentum as their scrum took control. Nigerian conceded multiple penalties and this gave the home side the chance to move further down field and eventually after numerous attempts to cross the whitewash they shipped the ball wide for their winger to touch down. 10-5.

When the Playas used the ball well and kept their play tight it was successful and another rare foray into opposition territory saw a penalty won and kicked to the corner. The maul worked well again and this time hooker Joe Macdonald flopped over the line. A cracking conversion meant the score was looking more comfortable at 17-5.

The final 20 minutes of the game were the worse in terms of errors for LNRFC, they couldn’t keep the ball long enough to see out the match. The last try came from Stockwood as they turned the ball over in Nigerian’s 22 and a grubber through was dotted down. 17-10.

Man of the match for LNRFC, chosen by Stockwood Park, was Jon Hardisty. Next week LNRFC are at home vs Hammersmith and Fulham, please come show your support.