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Eton Manor were just beaten to automatic promotion despite victory on the final day of the regular season and now face a play-off against Chichester
Despite beating Luton 27-19 on Saturday, Eton Manor will travel to Chichester in the play-offs after a dramatic final day of the regular season.
Going into their tie at Luton, Manor knew that leaders Westcliff faced the tough proposition of travelling to a North Walsham side that were unbeaten at home this season.
Defeat against Ruislip the weekend before had been a major blow for Manor and head coach Jamie Connors felt that the 14-12 defeat had alleviated some of the pressure on his side.
"We were probably aware that the pressure was off us and I think that helped us to relax a bit," explained Connors.
"We spoke about it before the game because it [Ruislip] was a big game. We weren't taking it for granted but we were at about 95 per cent and it only takes being off by a few per cent to get found out."
With the pressure off, Manor blew Luton away early on, Tryson Goodchild opening the scoring after 20 minutes.
The subsequent conversion was missed by Reece Reed, but Manor wasted little time in bringing up another score, Will Mobray crossing the line from eight metres for a converted try.
A 12-0 lead soon became a 19-0 lead when Chris Jones got in on the action; Reed converting the extras.
Reed added a penalty before the break to give Manor a commanding 22-0 lead at half-time.
Westcliff were leading Walsham 23-5 at the break, something coach Connors was well aware of as he addressed his players at the interval.
"With social media nowadays I knew what the Westcliff score was at half time because they were updating their Twitter feed, but I kept that from the players," explained Connors.
It was Luton that made the better start to the second half though and some slick handling released Luton’s centre to break through and score their first try of the game.
Jones added his second and Manor's fourth to earn a bonus point, but the conversion was missed.
With 10 minutes left to play, the visitors led by 20 points.
However two quick yellow cards to Reed and Dan Johnson allowed Luton to get within eight points as they grabbed two tries and a conversion.
With little more than five minutes remaining, Manor were able to see out the win.
Westcliff's impressive 40-26 win in North Walsham means that Manor will now travel to Chichester to play for a place in the National Three South.
After qualifying from the London One South Division, Chichester are something of an unknown quanity, says Connors: "It's a different competiton so we dont know a lot about them. They lost five games to our four and we've got to travel, but we had to travel for our play-off game last season so the boys will take experience from that."
Connors will be boosted by the return of openside flanker Johnson and outside centre Ben Thomas, both of whom got 80 minutes under their belts in the win against Luton.