Enfield Ignatians’ experiment of staging all their junior and senior matches in the Big Day Out at Allianz Park on Saturday was a big hit but the first team went down to a 20-16 defeat against Saffron Walden in London Two North-East.
In a thrilling game played in front of a bumper crowd under lights, Ignatians trailed 17-11 at the break but, despite a mounting penalty count and losing two players to the sin-bin, the Blue and Golds kept themselves afloat with some heroic defence.
Two successful Jordan Wilson penalties and a close-range Richard Laurence try kept them in the hunt and set up a fraught second-half.
Ignatians moved to within a point of overhauling second-placed Saffron Walden following a fine effort from winger Tan Mbonu, although the visitors had the final say after former Enfield player Tom Price stroked over a fifth penalty.
Both sides had their moments after that but, with defences on top, there was no further scoring as Ignatians had to settle for a losing bonus point at Saracens’ Premiership arena.
Skills coach Steve Atkinson said: “The players really rose to the occasion. I was very happy with our attitude and work rate. They were huge positives. Our phase play defence was also much improved.”
In a landmark moment in the club’s history, Ignatians can reflect with a surge of pride that all the club’s teams competed, as the player turnout figure for the whole event hovered around the 600 mark.
Organiser Harold Pritchard said: “It turned out to be a superb occasion for club. We had 600 players playing on the 4G pitch, and it's amazing what can be achieved when everyone pulls together.
“We’ve had a great many messages complimenting us on a great day, and some have been enquiring as to what will be our next big idea.”
Ignatians Seconds beat a Finchley select fifteen 35-12 following tries from Ryan Browne, Dannan O’Meachair, Andy Roper (two) and Jack Stockman. Paul Duke added ten points via the boot.
Tries from Anthony Clare, Chris Langan and Dan McDermott weren’t enough as Ignatians Thirds exited the main Herts-Middlesex Merit Table Three competition 30-15.
However, the Fourths remain very much in the hunt for Herts-Midldesex Merit Table Six Cup honours after overwhelming Hackney Thirds 40-15. James Okoro (two), Peter Davies (two), George Osaiy and Chris Lyons all crossed. Kicker Xavier Babington added ten points.
There were respective wins for the Under-17s and Under-13s over Barnet Elizabethans 25-19 and 20-19 but the Under-15s lost 15-12 against Hitchin.