A two week break from rugby due to opposition cancellations meant that AEI were rusty from the enforced inactivity and the scratch 15 (containing 10 forwards and only 5 recognised backs) lost a hastily arranged friendly after yet another cry-off from their league opponents.
AEI started the brighter and should have scored the first points after their initial foray into the opponents’ 22 when birthday boy Matthew West dropped a pass with the try line beckoning. AEI did open the scoring when a loose ball was kicked downfield and makeshift winger Ian Cockerill outpaced the chasing defence to register his first try of the season.
The remainder of the match was a reflection of the season thus far – when AEI managed to get the ball to their backs with space to run, they scored: Nathan Yeung and Clint Nykamp (2) giving the AEI brief moments in the lead. However, the opposition pack, using all their experience and benefiting from some refereeing decisions, managed to keep the majority of the possession and deny AEI the space to run.
The lack of match sharpness showed as AEI were guilty of lax defending at the fringes and a failure to make enough first up tackles. One scrum exemplified this when the Manor Park number 8 was able to score from halfway with only a couple of half-hearted tackles to mar his run to the line.
AEI will be looking to set things aright and finish the year on a positive note with the final league fixture of 2011 when they visit Coventrians 2 this Saturday.