WEEK two of our travels this month saw us head to Southend RFC.
After the hard-fought victory last Saturday, we went full of confidence that we would finally get the win in Essex.
Having not beaten Southend since the first game of last season, and then suffering a heavy defeat towards the end of that year, not to mention the close and eventful fixture at home this season, we knew how well we would have to play to get anything out of the match.
The side this week saw more changes with Paul Dunckley coming into the centres, Raynn Bruce started at prop and Sam Hewick got his first start at openside, after some impressive performances coming off the bench in the previous weeks.
We decided to play into the cold, stiff, wind and from the kick-off recycled the ball well and built some good phases, eventually forcing a penalty which Matt McLean kicked over.
From the restart, we attacked again and an intelligent kick from Ben Dudley forced a line-out in the 22 and from the resulting phases, Matt Miles ran a great line to go over.
So a 10-0 lead but, as is the way at the moment, we went to sleep and allowed the Southend backs to score, albeit with a hint of crossing in the midfield.
Despite this, we were still playing well and were putting the Southend defence under pressure, the ball retention was good and we were creating chances with good quick ball.
We did strike back when Greg Sullivan outpaced the defence which gave us a 17-7 lead. Unfortunately, the curse struck again and we let Southend back into the game, first it was 17-15 then just before half-time they scored again to take the score to 22-17
The second half started well with some strong defence in midfield and as the opposition looked to go wide, Paul read it well and stepped in to intercept and raced away, before giving it to Briggs to finish off.
The game became about defence, when, for a 12-minute period we were camped on our line, with both forwards and backs defending well. Again, it was not to be enough and Southend eventually found a gap to go over, taking the score to 29-24.
We pushed on looking for the winning points and came up with a penalty by the posts and opted for the kick at goal. Matt made it 29-27 and, with time left to get back into their half, there was all to play for. Despite all our best efforts, we could not find the finishing touch or force the opposition into making a mistake and came up just short.
Wins this week went to Richmond, Ealing, Shelford, Taunton, Dings and Jersey, with a draw played out by Henley and OAs.
This Saturday, we travel to Taunton in what will be another physical encounter and we hope to see as many of you who can make it there.