|Date||16 September 2017|
|Venue||Bank of England Sports Centre|
|Result||W 48 - 5|
|Time played||Normal time|
Bank of England vs London French (Match Report - 16th September 2017)
Bank went into this match - the first home game of the season - buoyed by the win last week over UCS Old Boys. London French promised to be a very different proposition as they made the short trip up from Rocks Lane.
With a decent smattering of home support, Bank kicked off and immediately put pressure on the French. A scratch back row did a superb job of interrupting the away side’s backline, with the French 10 having a torrid time in the opening minutes. It was not long before a scything run from winger Dan Whitehead-Farr opened the scoring, with James Marshall duly adding the extras. With pace to burn on the wings and a dominant scrum, Will Powles completed a jinking run from the wing to take the home side 14 points clear. The self professed ‘home of champagne rugby’ seemed a few bubbles short of a magnum today.
With 20 minutes remaining in the first half, Bank failed to turn the screw further with a period of tight play, and some good defence at the fringes. After a few questionable kicking decisions, Bank re-grouped to slow the phases down slightly and exploit the space out wide. The change paid off almost immediately with Whitehead-Farr coming in from his wing to cut through the midfield like a hot knife through butter. 19-0 to Bank. Minutes from halftime, Simon Armitage was incredibly unlucky not secure a first half bonus point. Visibly shocked to have made a clean break inside the French 22, he pinned his ear back for the corner, only to be unceremoniously crunched into touch by a tackle notable only for the dubious absence of arms. With Armitage injured, and a penalty try nowhere to be seen, Bank retreated to regroup for the second half.
The French came out of the blocks with added impetus after the break, producing a period of sustained pressure. With strong runners particularly at 8 and 12, Bank had to dig deep to keep the away side out and turnover the ball. Graeme Hadley, coming into the back row in Ed Waite’s absence, showed admirable grit at the breakdown to slow down French ball. The away side proceeded to revert to a loose kicking game, which Will Powles took great advantage of by showing a clean set of heels to cross the whitewash for his 3rd and 4th tries of his debut season. With a bonus point duly secured, and with a 33-0 margin, Bank showed exemplary bite to continue to take the game to the French. Punchy carries from Tom Merriman, Ross Mullard and Alasdhair Lochrane kept the French firmly on the back foot. Some quick thinking from scrum-half James Marshall saw Shaun Pollock storming down the wing only to flatten the corner flag after some deft defence from the French. The scoring was not over though, with Whitehead-Farr providing the second hat-trick for Bank, and Marshall adding the extras. 40-0. In the last 10 minutes on the match, fly-half Mike Plant made a great dart through the midfield to then be shunted over by a determined Bank pack.
At 47-0, and with mere minutes remaining, the French launched one final flurry in attack, and had Bank camped on their own try line. After soaking up drive after drive, they eventually managed to muscle over to get their first points on the board, moments before the final whistle.
A first home win for Bank this season, taking the home side to the top of Hertfordshire and Middlesex Division 1 - a superb feat for a newly promoted side. Despite peerless attacking play from Whitehead-Farr and Powles on the wings, the man of the match honours went almost unanimously to flanker Graeme Hadley after a physical effort playing out of position. Bank now turn their attention to a tough away fixture against Actonians next week, aiming to maintain their perfect start to the season.