The weather forecast had not been very optimistic for a mornings’ rugby, however the skies brightened and rain disappeared for a windy kick off on a muddy and heavy pitch at Hitchin RFC.
The OAs support were hopeful for a strong performance from the boys but it was going to be one of those days!!
Hitchin received an early penalty and kicked for a line out. It resulted in a knock-on and scrum to Hitchin. They used a very quick ball along the backs to score the first try 5-0.
The conversion was kicked. 7-0
We couldn’t get any traction in the game, all of our possession was breaking down by knock-ons or silly penalties.
As with the first, Hitchin’s second try resulted from a scrum. They used the ball well and we missed many tackles for the try 12-0
The Hitchin kicker was on fire and managed another fine conversion into the wind from near the touchline. 14-0
Hitchin it would seem were not going to make any errors or miss any tackles. They ran in another try with the OAs defence resembling Moses parting the Red Sea followed by another excellent conversion. 21-0
Just before half-time OAs managed to secure the ball and use the backs to our advantage. Josh swivelling out of one tackle to scamper up field to the Hitchin 22. Hitchin though were equally good in defence with the attack snuffed out.
Half time – 21-0 and a lot to think about.
OAs needed a strong start to the second half and thats what we got. Apenalty to OAs produced a line-out 5m from the touchline. George nailed the throw and the resulting maul was expertly skippered over the line byLachlan for our first try 21-5.
We thought that perhaps a comeback was on the cards when Jake saved a certain try with a tackle into the corner which pushed the diving winger out into touch. Sadly it was not the case as our line out turned into a Hitchin scrum with good play across the pitch and another quick use of the backs for a wingers try in the opposite corner for 26-5.
Straight away from the kick off the lanky and fast Hitchin centre was given the freedom of the field and skipped through at least three attempted tackles to score 33-5.
Finally lots of OAs pressure saw us progress to within 10m of their line. A scrum allowed Jack to drive over for our second try 33-10 and the gap reduced to 33-12 from an Oliver DP conversion straight out of the Hitchin fly-half’s text book. There was still time to get another two tries and a bonus point but further errors stalled this target.
At the death another try was looking a possibility for OAs with a fantastic run down the wing from Will taking the ball from just outside our 22 to Hitchin’s 22 before a last ditch Hitchin tackle stopped a clear run to the posts while soon after a break down the opposite wing by Josh and Jakeended in typical style with a knock-on, so a late consolation was not to be.
From an OA’s perspective the game was strewn with handling errors, missed passes, knock-ons, poor kicking and avoidable penalties. I think the boys would all agree that they did not play well individually or collectivelyand hopefully this is a one off “just one of those days”. We know we are far better than this and the coaches will be looking for a positive reaction in training and the matches to come.
Well done to Hitchin, they played really well and deserved the win. They played with a higher tempo, made virtually every tackle, out-rucked us throughout the game, stopped our big runners in their tracks, managed the difficult conditions perfectly and made hardly any handling errors. Also thanks to the referee for trying to keep the flow of the game and just a shame we couldn’t reciprocate!
Finally we wish Lachlan a speedy recovery having hobbled off towards the end. It showed the type of player he is that struggling to walk, only a few minutes left and the game beyond us he still wanted to stay on the pitch. Fortunately it looks like soft tissue damage rather than anything serious and hopefully he’ll be back before our important final games.