Naturally, after the sad events at Dry Leas last week, proceedings started with a minutes silence in memory of Henley’s David Hyde.
From kickoff A’s had most of the territorial advantage and possession and their defence improved whenever the visitors carried the ball. This pressure told after eighteen minutes when the Canterbury scrum got in trouble under their own posts. Dan Watt obliged with the penalty.
However one mistake later and Tom Williams scuttled over when the hosts got the lineout wrong in their own 22. Frank Reynolds converted. Immediately Canterbury’s defence missed the restart kick and Alex Ricci tore to the line for Watt to improve. But the winger was yellow carded on the half hour as Harry Betts departed hurt.
One man down OAs couldn’t cover Kyan Braithwaite’s sharp break as the half wound down and Reynold’s kick gave his side a handy four point interval lead. Watt’s speculative 55 metre penalty attempt just before the whistle did not change the score.
More mistakes gave the visitors an early advantage but Reynolds kick to the corner proved a tad too ambitious. Then with the first clinical move of the day Tom Mills scythed through the midfield to the sticks. Watt again converted and the lead had changed hands once more. A’s flattered to deceive during this period and seemed to be more precise than before but the odd loss of concentration prevented further scoring.
The same lack of precision ensured Canterbury’s catch and drive worked effectively just into the last quarter and, with Reynolds’ extras, the visitors took the lead again. Moments later it was Albanians doing the driving and Morgan Thompson dummied right then tunnelled under the defender to the line. Watts boot proved unerring.
Influential No8 Oliver Tyler saw yellow for a high tackle and was not to retake the field this day. So he wasn’t there to help stop OA skipper Chris West who charged over for the bonus point try with eight minutes of the match remaining.