The Great Wall of Spencer – aka Rick Bone – helped preserve the Earlsfield club’s unbeaten start to the season as they faced waves of attack from a combative Hitchin. Their 10-3 win was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests and demonstrates the intense competition at the top of the Prem.
There were wins for Blues and Hillcroft and this trio keep their 100% record as the league standings start to take shape.But the results were over-shadowed by a serious injury to Hampstead’s Marc Banas who broke his leg in a collision in the game at Reading that was abandoned.
The 29-year-old former Scotland international middie was hurt when going for a ground ball and it was more than an hour before he was taken to hospital. Early reports are that it was a clean, if distressing, break and that an operation to insert a plate on Monday went well. SEMLA sends its good wishes to Marc for a speedy recovery. The game will now be for double-points at the Westway later in the season.
Spencer’s fortress defence got their biggest test on Saturday as Hitchin’s clever movement and set plays created havoc. Will Barrie characterised their tenacity to match the home team and constantly set up fast breaks to feed a multi-threat attack.Bone was in superb form when they did penetrate and a series of 1 on 1 saves illuminated a star performance.
Going forward Spencer look devastating with Rob Holmes, Will Walker and Ed Vita combining with ominous potency. They were 6-0 up at the end of the first half but found the going tougher for the final session. “Although by their own admission Hitchin are lighter than last year, they still are playing their dodge to feed and multiple cuts style of lacrosse,” said Spencer co-captain Tom Leahy. “Fortunately, our experienced defence was able to counter this which made for a good battle and we were able to keep dangerous players such as Mike Halliwell firmly at bay. “In attack, the cogs are firmly turning now with Vita, Holmes and Walker linking up well.
This was supported by a strong midfield display, with ex East Grinstead man Ed Shee coming in to form.”Hitchin skipper Rhodri Stanford was impressed by both his side’s and Spencer’s efforts: “They were deserved winners on the day but it was a little closer than the scoreline suggests. I was very impressed with the fluidity, tempo and discipline shown by the Spencer offence.“We had our share of the possession and had some great opportunities on goal. But a combination of us missing some sitters and Rick Bone having an absolute stormer saw us shut out in the first half.”
Blues kept their winning record in a tough scrap with East Grinstead who fought an impressive rearguard action to try to stay with the champions who could only manage a 1-0 at Quarter Time thanks to a Pete Ross goal.East Grinstead’s keeper was another shot-stopper in imperious form as Blues wrestled to make their superiority count. Two goals from Matt Paul gave them daylight and they pushed on from a 3-0 half time advantage.
Further goals from Ross, Dave Howie, Matt Bagley, Nabeel Chaudry and a superb run upfield from LSM Ollie Barrett, who converted with a stinging outside shot, put the contest beyond reach. “Their keeper was fantastic but we managed to take a stronger grip on the game,” said Blues captain Dave Cluney. “EG continued to fight and never gave up. They have a great team spirit and are prepared to work hard for each other and made it very difficult for us on the day.“They might have struggled this week but if they continue to show this much heart and commitment throughout the season then they will be strong favourites to survive the relegation dog fight.”
The visitors had little luck as their best offensive plays ended up hitting the pipe.Hillcroft, the other undefeated side, purred through their encounter with Welwyn, recording an emphatic 19-2 win.They started with a high-speed tempo and fired out to a 6-0 lead at Quarter Time as attacker Duncan Trenholme set the rhythm with a hat-trick in a seven point day in a Man of the Match showing as they motored to 11-0 at the Half.
“We came out firing and got going with a couple of nice finishes from Liam Kirwan and Zak Jordan. Some of our newer faces were also starting to mesh with the team which was great to see,” said captain Eoin Dunne, who praised his team’s hard work at training for the fluid performance.“It is encouraging and we stepped up a couple of levels to give a complete team performance over the full 80 minutes. We are excited about how we are playing at the moment and, with Spencer in two weeks time, we should get a really good indication of where we currently stand and what we need to work on.”
Welwyn believe Hillcroft have genuine title chances after facing rivals Spencer and Hitchin in the first two games. “We are failing to do some simple things at times and, although we played well at times, we need to be playing our best lacrosse across 80 minutes not in short periods. “But they have players of real quality and are definite title contenders.”The Warriors super-tough schedule eases slightly this weekend when they entertain Bristol but the Bombers have their first win and will be fierce opposition. They scored a significant win over Purley, who made the trip west with just ten men and struggled to match the home team’s sizeable bench, going down 12-5.
Matt Collis had a Man of the Match day at the face as Bristol controlled possession for large chunks of the game and Pete Wilson found the net with a hat-trick, backed up by Ben Western and James Williams, grabbing two goals each.“They played a zonal defence which we hadn’t seen much of before but, without subs, it was always going to be hard going,” said Bristol D-man Silas Voelcker-Benson. “We controlled the ball in attack for long periods which reduced their ability to take the pace out of the game. ”Jamie Cadwell had a fine game between the pipes in the absence of 1st team regular Bob Chapman and Bristol 2nd year students Sam Hockenhall and Joe Adler also performed well. “But the moment of the game belongs to Tom Hamey for putting in an impressive hit, picking up the loose ball and sprinting the length of the pitch to score,” added Voelcker-Benson.
Photo Credit: Hitchin Lacrosse Club
Bristol Bombers 12 – 5 Purley
Hillcroft 19 – 2 Welwyn
Hitchin 3 – 10 Spencer
Reading A – A Hampstead
Blues 10 – 0 East Grinstead
East Grinstead v Hampstead
Purley v Blues
Reading v Spencer
Welwyn v Bristol Bombers