National Two South
Saturday afternoon showed plenty of evidence of the tiny difference between joy and heartache at
level four. The hosts came away with just one league point for all their stalwart efforts whilst
Albanians made it a maximum five for the third week running to deepen Bournemouth’s woe at the
foot of the table.
This week there was no gale to blame or be thankful for and the pitch, sodden just the day before,
stood up well to every pressure. Even the sun shone on this balmy January day.
Other claims notwithstanding Bournemouth scrum-half Grant Hancox, man-of-the-match regardless
of what the sponsors said, ensured his side stayed in this consuming contest at times when others
might have given up the ghost. More, he put the hosts into the lead with two neat penalties after just
ten minutes, making the most of hard-won ground and OA carelessness.
This advantage obtained until Albanians forced their first meaningful assault into Bournemouth
territory on the half-hour. Three attacking five-metre scrums were well defended until Chris Napier
imposed by the posts. Napier was to be a burr under the Bournemouth saddle all day. Morgan
Even reduced to fourteen men following a Roddy Giles indiscretion, OA defence proved thunderous
and counterattack accurate enough for Joe Butler to intercept on halfway and almost stroll to the
line. Thompson’s second conversion gave the visitors a useful interval lead of 6-14.
As happened last week the pack largely took over the scoring duties and player-coach Nick Stevens
swore he shoved both packs to the line for the third touchdown, improved once more by Thompson
who now moved to the flyhalf berth to accommodate Rob Calder.
The ubiquitous Hancox reduced the deficit a minute later with his third penalty and a much more
difficult kick crowned Gianluca Firetto’s try when he caught the catch and drive habit with fifteen
Three minutes later Albanians seemed to have settled matters with another drive from a lineout, Josh
Taylor awarded the bonus point try. Thompson again obliged but there were still twelve minutes to
Hancox proceeded in sterling fashion with his third penalty which gave his team the fillip they
needed to fray Albanian nerves. Yet OAs held out as the clock ran down, at least until the Dorset
men found the strength for a final lineout drive. Alan Manning took the honours this time and the
unerring Hancox brought the margin to just two points.
That was as close as it was to get and Bournemouth fielded the OA restart and hoicked the ball into
touch, gaining a bonus point in the process.
No difference in League placings but A’s now prepare for the visit of Taunton Titans, a scant six
victories and twenty-five league points to the good. It will be well worth watching! Kickoff 15.00hrs.
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