The Wild Geese travelled to Henley’s Dry Leas ground for the opening game of the 2019/20 season preparations.
There were many new faces in the Geese side, since last season National League 2 South defeat, including a new coaching team.
The game started positively for the Irish. Some good possession in the Hawks half drew a penalty that Fly Half, Ollie Turner converted to gain the lead.
There were some very encouraging signs in the early exchanges, new Props, Rory Harrison and Alastair Donkor set the standard in a rock solid scrum. Hooker, Richie Townsend combined well with his jumpers to continue a good source of ball for the back line.
Our defence was working very well against a side that scored more than 50 unanswered points last time out. Unfortunately, some disappointing discipline gave Henley dangerous field position. From the resulting red zone possession, Henley showed their quality and scored three tries to lead 19-3 at half time.
In the second period there was a much better approach to the game, we played with a great attitude, working really hard for each other, especially without the ball. This time it was Henley that made mistakes and allowed us to squeeze them.
Despite some early inaccuracy, we recovered to score two tries from close range lineouts, Sam Hobbins and then Chris West going over.
Despite some promising attack play, we lacked the patience to capitalise on line breaks. We’ll need to improve on this as we move onto our next games. Remaining calm when we get into the red zone will bring more rewards.
Defence Coach Mike Smith said “I was very pleased with our execution today. We worked really hard and made ourselves difficult to break down. Our 2nd half performance was much improved. We trusted ourselves more and the systems stood up really well to Henley pressure”.
Head Coach, John Lacey added “It felt really good to get out there and see that we have the makings of a decent side. We worked hard, made mistakes, learned and adjusted.
I was very impressed with our set piece especially our front row, we were on top for pretty much the whole game, here. Chris West and Joe Touma earned a mention, they gave us good, front foot ball.
Our discipline wasn’t where we want it to be, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves with dull penalties in mid field that became try scoring opportunities. Henley are a class side and don’t need a second invite. Their three, first half tries came from our ill-discipline, but that’s what these games are about.
We’ll go away now and work hard on some conditioning and sharpen our attack options before we play Ruislip at Hazelwood on Thursday 22nd August, With no game next week, we have 4 sessions to continue our improvements”.
London Irish Wild Geese
Donkor, Townsend, Harrison, Hobbins, Bifield, Moore (capt.), Donegan, West, U’Chong, Turner, Brewerton, Townshend, Pueble, McLoughlin, Gott
Frampton, Byrne, Jones, Scott, Touma, Cassin, Molloy, Madle, O’Mahony
Tries – Hobbins, West
Pen – Turner