…OA Sharks also reach the semi-finals
Both the OA Sharks and the OA Lions had qualified back in December for the Champions Festival played at Allianz Park on Sunday.
There were two pools consisting of six teams each, with an OA team in each group. The Sharks looked to have the harder draw with several tough teams in their group. The day got off to great start with a fabulous team performance against a very strong and physical Bishops Stortford side. In a very keenly contested game the Sharks managed to win by the slimmest of margins 1-0. The remaining matches were all very close as we lost to Sevenoaks, beat Blackheath and drew with Hitchin. It came down to the last pool game against Woodford. The Sharks needed a win to reach the semis…….and the decisive score came at exactly the right time..….as we scored the winning try with the last play of the game. It was a fabulous achievement to qualify out of a very difficult group with some great individual performances and wonderful team spirit.
The Lions have had a long unbeaten run and one wondered if it would end in this tough competition. Our first match was against the Kent county champions, Aylesford Bulls. In a great game the Lions edged it, scoring the only try of the game. We then beat Hampstead, which was followed by a very close game against a very well organised and spirited Hemel side, again we just shaded the game. We won our final two games against Blackheath and Bromley. At times the boys played some lovely passing rugby although the very narrow pitches suited a rucking rather than a passing team. In the five games the Lions only conceded one try – an intercept at that…..so the defence was excellent.
Unfortunately both OA’s teams were drawn together in the Semis. The Sharks secretly quite fancied the narrow pitches……less room for the (mostly) smaller Lions to exploit. It turned out to be a great game and despite the Sharks breaching the Lions defence with some very strong running, the Lions passing got them through by three tries to one. It was a great game to watch and played in exactly the right competitive spirit.
On to the final, was played in front of over 8,000 spectators at half-time of the Saracens – Exeter Aviva Premiership game. We played against Sevenoaks and they presented us with our toughest game of the day. They had an excellent defence and it was a hard fought game. We defended resolutely as a team in the first few minutes when they laid siege to our line. Once we overcame that early onslaught, we started to get more in to the game and scored the only try of a closely contested game. It was certainly not the prettiest rugby we had played all day, but the boys were very happy with the result….and the medals!
It had been a great day for all the players and the parents and well done to everybody involved on our both The Sharks and the Lions.