A cool breezy afternoon at Woolams, saw the OA 3rd team take on Hampstead 2nd XV in the second league game of the season.
A slightly sleepy start to the match saw OAs defence broken twice around the fringes with the second break leading to a penalty which was smartly converted by the opposition 10. However the lads responded well with some solid ball won by the forwards in both the line out and the scrum. The backs were looking on form with some beautifully executed moves getting the ball wide, however a well organised defence covered the move into touch. With the wind in our favour and some strong runs from the forwards a scrum in the Hampstead 22 saw our best opportunity to put points on the board. A firm platform from the scrum gave the backs a chance to run at the Hampstead defence. A well implemented move saw S. Cobb attacking the line the oppo 13 was unable to cover and he crossed for OAs first try. Toon comfortably added the extras.
This was followed up well with solid running from Forrest and Hanner. This led to a penalty square in front of the posts which Myles Toon slotted well.
A collision in the centres saw Team Manager Berendt pop his shoulder forcing him to leave the field. However the backs kept up a secure defence and showed more attacking adventure with Keane and the returning Panting seeing lots of ball and space on the right wing. Another phase of play from good forward ball, saw Keane in open space again, a forceful hand off to his opposite number lead to a flat race for the corner against the covering fullback. Keane’s pace was enough to get him across the line. A touchline kick was just out of range for Toon to add the extras.
OAs looked comfortable for the next few minutes until a well sold dummy, again around the fringes of the ruck, saw the Hampstead 9 break through, a few passes later and a poor scramble defence put their 12 in for the try.
The half ended and with what should have been a 15 – 3 lead reduced to 15 – 11.
The second half started well, Hampstead using the wind to their advantage keeping OAs pegged back, but regular breaks through the Hampstead line from Maher, M. Gibson, Hanner and Knighton saw OAs looking promising. Opportunities were wasted regularly however, as clearing out of the rucks was not clean, therefore leading to Parkash scrambling for space.
Midway through the second half the game was taken away from Hampstead. From another strong won scrum saw S. Cobb across the gain line on a 12 crash, this was followed up well by the forwards. The forward momentum put OAs on the front foot and quick ball allowing M. Gibson to take on a chip and chase, which came off fortuitously putting OAs in for the third try. Unfortunately no extras.
The next minute saw the play of the game; the restart was owned by the G. Gibson aka Giraffe , taking the ball forward Gibson popped the ball off to Cross who hit the defensive line with force, thus breaking through! After dodging a couple more tackles he was eventually brought down… looking up from the floor cross popped it up to the Giraffe was there again to provide the smooth hands to give Maher a chance to show his finishing skills, his quick feet seeing off the covering defence to take OAs to a bonus point 4 tries and a comfortable cushion.
The next 15 minutes was scrappy at best, OAs knowing they had the upper hand got too carried away and they were not clinical with the ball. However Flanagan’s chopping down of the opposition second row a noticeable highlight.
Overall it was a performance to be proud of and when the final whistle blew there were smiles all round for the first home win of the season.