Two rounds to go and the title candidates have been narrowed down to two. Exiles met Enköping in an exciting and closely fought match, just won 17 – 5 by Exiles, but which could easily have gone the other way. Exiles were close to full strength while Enköping were without their main kicker, Nylén, and lineout man, Granath. Nevertheless they started with a bang and put the Exiles under intense pressure for an extended period, Exiles defense was very solid, however, and after 25” there was srill no scoring. Then, rather against the run of play, Exiles launched a counter attack and prop Jibladze found his way over the line. Enköping returned to the attack and a long pass from Tim in the centre to young winger Birk Westerlund space to go over unchallenged. Robin converted and the vistors were up 7 – 5. There was a stalemate then for half an hour with both teams constantly on the attack, but being foiled by solid defences. Finally, Enköping found there way through from a forward drive joined by half the backs. The Dutch prop Leber got the touchdown and Robin added a penalty 5 minutes later. Time was running out and at 15 – 5 it looked as if the visitors could hold on. But with 7 starters at 32 and over, the pace was perhaps beginning to tell for Enköping. They conceded a number of penalties and were under siege. Beso S., the Georgian tank, took a penalty from 10 m. out on 68” and went over the line with half the Enköping team hanging on to him. Exiles continued to attack and with 8 minutes to go Dave Hill, top try scorer of the Suoer series went over för his eighth try of the season. Ian Gowland held his nerve to put over the conversion and it was 17 – 15 to the home team. Enköping threw everything into it in the last few minutes, a penalty would have been enough, but Exiles gave nothing away and held on to the end. One of the better games between the two sides in recent years and certainly the most exciting one.
Apart from his try, Beso did serious damage to the Enköping scrum, Erik Sandberg at wing forward tackled all day and Liam Kearney had a good allround game at scrum half. For the visitors, Tim showed that there´s life in the old dog yet with a number of powerful runs that caused panic in the Exiles defence, while another veteran, coach Andrew Daish, showed that it was not a bad decision to put himself back on the field. The game flowed quickly thanks to the referee as opposed to others who regularly awaed 30 – 35 penalties per game. Hamish as usual gave a fine, balanced commentary, aided by my grandson Andrew, currently attending film school, who provided some excellent camera work. The corresponding coverage in Trelleborg was, unfortunately, very poor.
The match in the South between Pingvin and Troján was nothing like the quality of the one in Stockholm. Troján seem to lose more key players every week to illness and injury. Without their farmer team in Kalmar they would be hard-pressed to get a team together. The game was played at the usual slow pace in Trelleborg and the 16 players from Norrköping did not badly for a while, keeping the score at half-time to 19 – 3. Pingvin got their bonus poin just after half-time and brought on much of their bench. Troján kept on courageously but five more tries were added in the second half to make it 50 – 3. Not really a match worthy of a so-called Super series.
The situation now is that Pingvin are on 38 points, five ahead of Exiles on 33. Enköping are now on 23 and can no longer win the title, even if they were to obtain 5 points in each of their three remaining games, two against Troján. It´s a pity they are no longer challenging as I feel, frankly, that they´re a better team than Pingvin. The latter will play Exiles at home in two week´s time and then finish the season away to Enköping. Exiles have their last game at home to Troján whom they would expect to beat comfortably. Enköping can be kingmakers in the last game of the season by beating Pingvin, but this would of course depend on success for Exiles the week before down South. The equation for Pingvin is much easier: if we beat Exiles we are the Champions.