East London gain the play off spot
Victory by 17-29 under the lights
East London secured second place in London 3 Essex with a 17-29 victory away at clubhouse rivals Kings Cross Steelers.
The maroon and blues reserved probably their best 40 minutes of rugby so far this season for the first-half of Friday night's match where their running play shone as brightly as the Memorial Ground floodlights.
Sadly the game which was generally played in good spirits throughout was overshadowed at the very end by a brawl between players prompted by a head butt from Steelers number eight Jonathan Elvin who can have no complaints about the red card he received.
East London coach Eddie Gooby said: "We cannot let one incident spoil what was a fantastic game between two great sides who both play very good rugby. We deserve our chance now to go for promotion."
The game did start badly for East London. A late high tackle by skipper Nick Parrott earned him a yellow card and Steelers took the lead with a penalty kick.
The away side were jolted into action. Front row forward and Mantas Urbonavicius added to his tally for the season on 11 minutes and full back Max Stanyard converted.
They scored again on 16 minutes. A kick over the top of an advancing home defence was gathered by outside centre Kevin O'Donoghue who ran in to score wide of the posts. The conversion was missed.
By now it was one-way traffic and left wing Bill Brown scored one of the East London tries of the season on 21 minutes. Scrum-half Will Brown collected the ball in his own half. A burst of pace took him clear to offload to right wing Sean Cooper who sped inside. He passed to fly-half Ryan Billinghurst who set up Brown in the left corner. The conversion was missed.
The try-scoring bonus point was secured on 26 minutes. Sustained pressure by the pack was rewarded when flanker Simon Edscer dotted down under the posts. Stanyard converted.
Stanyard left the field injured shortly afterwards and it was his replacement Ed Brown who put the icing on the first-half cake. Will Brown took advantage of space in the Steelers defence and a quick tap and go penalty created the scoring opportunity for his brother Ed. The conversion was missed and East London went into the break 3-29 ahead.
The second half was a completely different game. Two substitutions at half-time disrupted the East London momentum. The Steelers responded and two converted tries within 15 minutes of the restart narrowed the gap.
The away side regathered and brought back starting second row second row Eoin Kelly from the replacements bench. Solid defensive work wrestled back control of the game from the Steelers and the East London line was not troubled again before the game ended in the way it did.
East London go into next Saturday's final league game of the season at home to Ilford Wanderers safe in the knowledge that are league runners-up. They will be looking for revenge against the side who beat them on the very opening day of the 2018/19 season.
East London RFC 1st XV versus Kings Cross Steelers: 1. Ben Hogan; 2. Lewis Bourke; 3. Mantas Urbonavicius; 4. Jack Millard; 5. Eoin Kelly; 6. Nick Parrott; 7. Simon Edscer; 8. Dan Bracken; 9. Will Brown; 10. Ryan Billinghurst; 11. Bill Brown; 12. Lachlan McKenzie; 13. Kevin O'Donoghue; 14. Sean Cooper; 15. Max Stanyard. Replacements: 16. Paddy Coman; 17. Ed Brown; 18. Ben Stern.