As has often been the case this season OAs were again hit by late drop outs to leave 15 players to face a useful looking Hitchin team bolstered by a couple of A team players and with the luxury of a few replacements.
Unusually, OAs started brightly and Matt, on his return from injury, was soon involved with excellent strong running.
OAs were unable to benefit from the early possession and Hitchin started to gain more ball and a promising break by one of their backs was snuffed out by an excellent tackle by Duncan. Hitchin continued to press hard and looked to have an excellent opportunity from a scrum deep in OAs 22. A fantastic effort by the pack saw them take the scrum against the head and OAs were able to clear their lines. Hitchin were not to be denied and from the line out a neat move saw them put their winger down the blindside to touch down under the posts.
Encouraged by their score Hitchin continued to apply pressure and great last ditch defence from OAs twice saw Hitchin players held up over the line. From the second five yard scrum the impressive Hitchin no 8 picked up from the base and powered over. 12-0 to Hitchin.
OAs soon hit back with the forwards, led by Ben S, making good ground and recycling the ball quickly to the backs whose quick hands released Will to storm down the wing to cross in the corner.
Hitchin replied quickly with another short range effort and just when they looked likely to take control of the match OAs scored two quick tries courtesy of Sheldon’s powerful running. The second of the tries saw him beat 6 or 7 Hitchin defenders – much to the delight of the OAs supporters with the Hitchin coaches seeming less pleased.
Half time beckoned but there was still time for Hitchin to benefit from an OAs fumble at the restart to score again leaving the half time score 26-17.
The second half saw OAs start to tire and errors on their own lineout and scrum ball allowed Hitchin to capitalise with two quick tries. There was no let up for OAs and they struggled to get out of their own 22. Further excellent defence again saw Hitchin held up again but this only delayed the inevitable as Hitchin crashed over from the resulting 5 yard scrum. 41-17 to Hitchin.
OAs kicked long from the restart and a Hitchin fumble gave OAs a lineout ten yards out. Good lineout ball gave OAs a solid attacking platform forcing Hitchin to concede a penalty. OAs piled in from the tap penalty but now it was their turn to be held up over the line. Unfortunately the ball was knocked on from the 5 yard scrum allowing Hitchin to clear.
Undeterred, OAs continued to press and looked certain to score with a clear overlap. Unfortunately the ball was passed once too often allowing the Hitchin defence to recover and deny OAs a well deserved score.
The huge amount of defensive work and lack of fresh legs were taking their toll on OAs and Hitchin took full advantage to score two further tries making the final score 53-17.
Although well beaten in the end the scoreline does not fully reflect the excellent rugby played at times by OAs and the fantastic defensive effort put in by all of the boys for which they should feel proud.