4th September 2017, 13:54 | harry_jepson_trophy
Two tries in six second-half minutes from man-of-the-match Byron Creighton helped London & The South East overcome the West of England in an entertaining Harry Jepson Trophy encounter at North Hinksey Park, Oxford.
The Hammersmith Hills Hoists hooker was in the thick of the action throughout, with his quickfire double all-but wrapping the game up for the visitors with just over 20 minutes remaining.
The final scoreline was perhaps a little harsh on the home side, who battled hard and defended manfully against a London & South East side stuffed full of attacking talent.
The opening game of the new-look Harry Jepson Trophy, which now features regional representative sides rather than community clubs, was a physical and hard-fought from the first minute to the last.
London & The South East started the brighter of the two sides, forcing their hosts back through quick defensive line speed and crunching tackles.
The West of England could barely get out of their own half in the first ten minutes and were unlucky not to go behind when Wests Warriors full back Josh Hutchison was adjudged to have knocked on over the line.
Three minutes later, the West of England had a try ruled out for the same reason in what was their first meaningful attack of the game.
In the end, it was the home side that opened the scoring.
Bristol Sonics stand-off Dan Brooker scored a superb solo try following a barn-storming 50-metre run down the left channel.
Sadly for West of England supporters, his attempted conversion drifted wide.
The visitors weren't behind for long, however.
On 22 minutes, London & The South East carved open the West with a flowing move, only to be halted by some superb last-gasp defence.
On the next play, second-rower Sam Broomhall trotted through unopposed to the left of the posts - Captain Dan O'Brien added the first of five successful conversions.
On the half hour mark, London & The South East extended their lead via the try of the game, a thrilling 50-metre team effort involving brilliant support play.
The move was started by a break from Hutchison – a constant threat throughout – and finished by winger Brad Aird.
On the stroke of half time, referee Malclolm Holmes sent London & South East second-rower Jamie Diggle to the sin-bin for persistent foul play.
While the home side didn't have time to take advantage of their extra man before the break, they reduced the arrears on 45 minutes following a towering cross-field kick by Dan Brooker.
The London & South East defence failed to deal with it, allowing Oxford Cavaliers' Ross Lewis an opportunity to scoop up the bouncing ball and touch down. Again, Brooker's attempted conversion drifted wide.
The game remained in the balance until Creighton produced two pieces of magic in less than five minutes.
The first followed a penalty awarded following the sin-binning of West of England forward George Lenton-Hall, while the second included some superb footwork in the build up as well as the hooker's usual close-range power.
With scrum-half O'Brien converting both tries, London & The South East were effectively home and dry at 24-8 with 20 minutes remaining.
As the West of England tired in the closing stages, it looked as if the visitors would pile on the points. In the end, the home side did well to limit them to one additional score: a powerful close-range score from Jamie Diggle with nine minutes remaining.
West of England
1. Mike McGrath (Southampton Spitfires)
2. Paul Bartlett (Cheltenham Phoenix)
3. Rhys Evans (Forest Bulldogs)
4. Jack Daynes (Swindon St George)
5. Myles Everett (Oxford Cavaliers)
6. Dan Brooker (Bristol Sonics)
7. Jamie Deal (Swindon St George)
8. Adam Dommett (Cheltenham Phoenix)
9. Tom Plance (Bath Rugby League)
10. Paul Bolger (Swindon St George)
11. Paul Fudio (Southampton Spitfires)
12. Lloyd Allen (Swindon St George)
13. Chris Kent (Swindon St George)
Subs (all used):
14. Sean Hayes (Southampton Spitfires)
15. Stevan Randall (Bath Rugby League)
16. George Lenton-Hall (Oxford Cavaliers)
17. Richard White (Swindon St George)
18. Colin Maragon (Forest Bulldogs)
19. Ross Lewis (Oxford Cavaliers)
20. Josh Verity (Swindon St George)
Tries: Dan Brooker (17 mins), Ross Lewis (45 mins)
Sin-bin: George Lenton-Hall (59 minutes, interference at the play the ball)
London & The South East
1. Josh Hutchison (Wests Warriors)
2. Caleb Adetona (London Chargers)
3. Adam Wilson (Wests Warriors)
4. James Morgan (London Chargers)
5. Brad Aird (Wests Warriors)
6. Shane Pickers (London Chargers)
7. Dan O'Brien (Wests Warriors)
8. Trent Richardson (Hammersmith Hill Hoists)
9. Byron Creighton (Hammersmith Hill Hoists)
10. Luke Donavan (Wests Warriors)
11. Joe Briggs (London Chargers)
12. Sam Broomhall (Hammersmith Hill Hoists)
13. Adam Cook (Eastern Rhinos)
Subs (all used):
14. Ceiron Williams (Eastern Rhinos)
15. Andy Parr (Reading Raiders)
16. Jamie Diggle (Wests Warriors)
17. Simbarashe Mandisozda (London Skolars)
18. Craig Kruger (London Chargers)
19. Jesse Fearn (Eastern Rhinos)
20. Todd Peut (London Chargers)
Tries: Sam Broomhall (22), Braid Aird (29), Byron Creighton 2 (54, 60), Jamie Diggle (71).
Conversions: Dan O'Brien 5 (from 5)
Sin-bin: Jamie Diggle (38 mins, persistent foul play)
Referee: Malcolm Holmes (Southern RS)
Man of the Match Awards
West of England: Lloyd Allen (second-row)
London & The South East: Byron Creighton (hooker)