Former Colchester player Ollie Eves breaks leg on first team debut for Sudbury at Harpenden – before Jonny Taylor scores last-gasp winner
Ollie Eves’ first team debut for Sudbury ended disastrously for the winger when he suffered a broken leg 25 minutes into Saturday’s London 1 North 13-10 victory at Harpenden, writes Ken Watkins.
Eves lay on the pitch for 90 minutes, covered with a thermal blanket and several coats to keep him warm on a bitterly cold and windy day before being taken to Watford General Hospital, needing an operation to align and pin his fractured right fibula and tibia.
Harpenden called for a private ambulance after being advised that an NHS ambulance could take up to two hours to reach Redbourn Lane. The private ambulance team treated Eves before the NHS ambulance arrived to complete the treatment before he could be moved.
The delay was followed by a 15-minute warm-up for the teams before the match resumed on Harpenden’s plastic pitch.
During that time head coach Neil Datchler said his players wanted the match to continue.
“We feel we can win it, and we want to win it for Ollie,” he had said.
Eves, 20, joined the club from Colchester, and, having made two appearances for the second team and impressing the coaching staff, was called up to Sudbury’s injury-hit side, a few of those injuries having been sustained in the 35-18 defeat on the plastic pitch at Shelford the previous week.
“I think playing on plastic pitches brings more injuries,” said Dachtler. “Thank goodness we don’t have to play on another one for a while.
“There’s not the give that you get on a grass pitch. Although there’s a bit of bounce, you don’t hit the ground and carry on going. You hit the ground and stop. That’s definitely a factor in how Ollie got injured. He got his foot caught in the ground.”
Suggestions that the match should have been abandoned were dismissed by Dachtler.
“We weren’t going to give up on it. We said we were going to go back out there and win for Ollie. And that’s what we did.”
Sudbury pressured their opponents’ line hard from the kick-off but the home defence stood firm and went on to lay the platform for a try from a rolling maul wide on the left.
Following the long stoppage, Eves’ replacement, Shaun Smith, back from America, scored with his first touch, following swift handling.
Harpenden replied with another rolling maul for a 10-5 lead at half-time.
Sam Rust kicked over a penalty to reduce the deficit with defences then saving tries at both ends.
But the last move of the match saw Smith run the length of the pitch before popping off to Jonny Taylor to score Sudbury the winner in the right-hand corner.
“We played the better rugby for the most part. Conditions weren’t great. There were a lot of changes, it does make a difference, and we struggled to get ourselves together at times,” said Dachtler.
“But it’s a better result than last week. We’re back on it again. Next week we are at home. We owe Amersham a game. We didn’t play well down there. I hope for a good crowd to just give us that little bit extra.”
Sudbury, eighth in London 1 North, host 11th-placed Amersham & Chiltern at Whittome Field on Saturday (3pm), looking to avenge the largely self-inflicted 21-16 defeat at Ash Grove in October.
* Sudbury Under-18 Girls are through to the last 16 of the RFU National Cup after an emphatic 40-17 victory at Eton Manor in their final group match on Sunday.
After conceding an early try, Sudbury dominated and scored four tries to lead 26-5 at half-time. Eton Manor scored twice after the break, to trail 26-17, but Sudbury replied with two further tries.
Lola Whitley scored four tries, with Amie Dain and Ellie Rogers bagging one apiece. Daisy Pollard converted four, with Rogers converting one.
Sudbury will play their regional semi-final on February 9, with opponents and venue yet to be decided.
More by this authorRussell Claydon