National League 2
Man of the match:
With no National league rugby the previous weekend this clash between the top two sides in the league was eagerly awaited. The quality of the rugby by both sides was a credit to both clubs and coaching staff. OAs welcomed back former coach James Shanahan and a number ex-players to Woollams, the home of OA Rugby. In fact all three Blackheath tries were to come from former Old Albanians. Warm and dry weather at the start of the game and a pitch in great conditions made for afternoon to keep the ball in the hands and both sides were happy to do so for long periods.
Heavy traffic meant Blackheath arrived late and the kick off was delayed for 15 minute. This may have led to Blackheath slow start but it was more to do with the young OAs team, average age 22, fast start. OA carried the ball hard and for the first ten minutes there was only one team in the game. This OA pressure inevitable led to the game’s first try, OA run the ball through the hands from their half the ball reached Kaz Henderson the wing had too much pace and power and went over in the right corner.
Blackheath now knew they had a game on their hands if they wanted to remain unbeaten and keep top spot in the league. Nick Foster was, as ever confident under high balls and the fullback showed he still had the pace to out strip the OA defence and score near the posts fly half Tom Fifitch convered,5-7. Both teams very confident with ball in hand and moved confidently through several phases of play. OAs Alex Noot was having his usual excellent afternoon and although fly-half isn’t his favourite position he showed his winger pace and ghosted through the Blackheath defensive line to score OA second try on 23 minutes. Sam Jones converted 12-7. Ten minutes later a Blackheath penalty led had an attacking line out 5 minutes from the OA line Blackheath completed the tried and tested catch and drive and hooker Olly Walliker scored. The conversion was missed -12 point all. As halftime approached. Hooker Walliker score against this old team again, Blackheath moved the ball through the hands and he galloped in, Ffitch added the extras.
The half time score 12-19 and the game still to be decided. OA started the second half as they had the first, very strongly and when carrying the ball were winning the collisions. The home defence was showing a line speed that hasn’t been there in every game and this was causing Blackheath to turn over ball they would have expected to retain. OA were able to use this energy and on 65 minutes of the man of match OA centre scored and converted this own try. 19 points all. Blackheath looked beaten by the strength of OA and the game winning bonus point try came in the left corner after a great run from Elliott Mcphun a kick through for number 7 Kemp Price to score. OA deserved winners 24-19.
OA Head Coach Dan George was rightly proud of his young team, “ I’m proud of my young team they brought energy and intent this afternoon. It some of the best I have seen in my time in the game. These players have grown together over the last two years and are one of the best groups I have worked with. It such a young group and they are learning how to manage games at this level and their calmness and the quality of thinking against a team with more experience at a higher level really stood out today”.
OAs now sit proudly at the top of National League 2 East.
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