Having finally broken their losing start to the season in the previous week, the AEI continued with a morale-boosting victory against a vastly experienced team. With injuries recovered from, an almost full-strength AEI played to their strengths in the backline and provided a pacy threat out wide which the Tailenders were unable to cope with.
The game unfolded much as in past matches where the nous and skill of the Lions forwards, coupled with good support play and quick offloads, were up against the speed and handling of the AEI backline with able support from their pack who stood up to the opposition driving mauls far better in the second half.
With the visitors keen to play a forward dominated game and keep the ball away from the wide open spaces, the AEI pack were forced to police the fringes and worked tirelessly to turn over ball which the younger and fitter AEI backs could then use to play their usual expansive game.
It was indicative of the match that almost all the Lions’ scores came from forwards whilst all of the AEI’s came from their three-quarters: Mark Eagles, Gareth Bott (2), Joe Bott and Clint Nykamp. Special mention must go the man of the match scrum half Mark Eagles who was a continual threat around the fringes, keeping the Tailenders back row occupied and giving his fly half, Gareth Bott (who also had an excellent game in both attack and defence) time and space to fashion the victory.
Another friendly fixture next week should hopefully cement the AEI’s turnaround in fortunes and provide a springboard for success in the upcoming league matches.