Under 14 B
Man of the match:
“Be kind to your friends – don’t disclose the ending” – tagline of ‘The Ladykillers’, an Ealing comedy film
Following on from last week’s strong display of forward domination going forward, a joint warm-up with the West Londoners preceded the kick-off on an overcast Sunday morning. Awarded partly for his stand-out performance seven days ago, and partly for his quick reactions when asked by the ref who was ours, Tariq captained and we faced the slope.
From the off we protected the ball and shifted it through the hands with a coolness and confidence which belied a team who had not started together this season, such is the solidarity of our age-group that it didn’t matter. Our 9/10 partnership of Dan Edworthy and Oscar de Jong consistently broadened our playing channels and, in doing so, at first stretched then sucked in the Ealing defence as strong running from our centre pairing of Theo and Will Duncan took the game to them. Tighthead revelation Ragib started strongly and his roaming run up and, ahem, across the pitch, forced the backline to triple up on him leaving an offload to release flying winger George Dalton to touch down his first of the morning in the corner. The winds picked up and the conversion was missed. A good start.
Ealing had the ball for the first time and spent a couple of minutes attacking within the 22. Cracks in our defensive organisation showed as Ealing’s pick-and-go gameplan was uncontested with a lack of guards put in at the rucks. We finally turned the ball as the Ealing wing was ushered into touch on an unmarked blindside, quick thinking by Tariq stopped in his tracks before the cavalry arrived.
The resulting lineout afforded Oscar some space and time to clear his lines, though touch was missed, and Ealing charged back. Their persistent picking-and-going came up time and again against our big hitters in the back row, open-side Rhys Harries, No.8 Fred Hunter and Crazy Horse at blindside. But again, defensive re-alignment was amiss and a gap on the blindside fringe was spotted for Ealing to cross the line and convert. Now trailing 7 -5.
A second try followed shortly after through a similar route which took the score line to 14-5 but OAs carried on unabashed with the pack getting the shove on in the scrum and beginning to turn rucks. Leggy lock James Coleman retreated to gather up a clearance kick and kept his head to fend off the chasers and stay on his feet until full-back Louis Beale came to his aid and the ball was retained. Promising signs of rugby maturity. A couple of breakaway runs were hunted down by the relentless Ealing back 3 and off-loads and pops from the deck were fumbled in our advancement. Lock George Hamblett assisted Ragib in turning a couple of rucks to stop Ealing gaining momentum.
Phase play rugby kicked in with five minutes left of the half and a number of crashball-runs punched holes in the green and white wall from Ragib, Fred &co. while the trajectory-changing Theo made good ground. Clean hands down the line eventually released George for his second of the game with a try in the corner which referee and his assistant didn’t need to go upstairs to confirm. Young Dalton punched the air with delight as they crept up the scoreboard and sparked renewed life amongst the boys, un-quelled by the missed conversion. 14-10
The restart was received by Oscar and moved up the pitch through his feeding of the dynamic pack. Pods were formed and support was given to our brave ball carriers. Possession was lost but regained through the quick-thinking of George Hamblett to drive over a loose ball. Theo took a flat pass at their 22 and went in against the direction of play, dodging a couple of tackles before going to ground, the forwards again recycled and the George Dalton on a hat-trick crossed the line under the posts for Oscar to take the conversion and move ahead of Owen Farrell in this weekend’s kick success rate.
Half-time: Old Albanians 17 – 14 Ealing
The slope was with us and there were a couple of things for the lads to work on, Ealing were down a back-rower and Henry Catterfeld stepped in to help them out. We weren’t overly concerned by this. He was after all, OA through and through. Seemingly optimistic, we never gained any real momentum for the error-strewn first quarter of an hour or so.
Scrums were reset over and over, both sides were penalised at the lineout and the quality of the all-round handling dropped. There were a few moments of excellence in this messy period; Rhys Harries drew defenders in and released Marcus Devenport on the left wing, fun-sized hooker Sam Waters ran multiple strong lines to make the hard yards and crunched into a few rucks while Fred tried a cheeky kick to grass which was chased down nicely by the midfield. The ref was unconsciously against us when Rhys Harries went to make a second delightful pass just before contact, only for the ball to be blocked by Sir’s body – was this a try-scoring opportunity? We’ll never know. Gradually, runs turned to walks and tackles were missed as this show of dejection allowed the Ealing no.8 to run through unopposed. Conversion scored, in off the upright. Behind again at 17 – 21.
Crazy Horse and Louis took a break with 5 minutes remaining for Will Powell and Ethan Teague respectively, followed shortly and in quick succession by Sam and Ragib who both suffered knocks to the heads. James Carruthers and Harry Crawley took their places.
Ealing capitalised on a loosely held ball in contact to turn it over and slip a flat ball to Catto. It was ok though, he would surely step his foot into touch, or based on Catto Snr’s form, lose his footing and go over. Failing both of these, George Dalton was in striking distance, it was a Catt and mouse situation in reverse – a very fast mouse to boot – and if Hanna-Barbera have taught us anything, it’s that the mouse always wins. That was my belief-system destroyed. Catto got away. In a bittersweet moment, he touched down and the game was out of our grasp, even with the missed conversion. One more opportunity fell to OAs via Marcus on the left wing ho ran hard and straight, avoiding the touchline only to be brought down with ten metres to go. The final whistle went, four tries to Ealing vs four tries to OAs, a shame that one of ours was for the visitors.
Full-time: Old Albanians 17 – 26 Ealing
Man of the Match went to hat-trick hero George Dalton, no easy scores with plenty of work to do each time before crossing the line.
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