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.