Sunday 28th February Hertfordshire Plate Quarter-Final
OA’s U15 C’s 19
So… we meet again! In what has become an annual event? As in last Years County Shield once again we come against V’s and once again it’s after a defeat in the League.
Verulamians looked very strong in our League match, played before Christmas.
Although we went two tries ahead, they punished us with powerful inside runners and their big right-winger who scored a hat-trick. We knew where their strengths lay and we had a plan.
First off; win the toss, play up the hill and against the wind, hold out and play our rugby in the second half. (It worked last year)
We lost the toss, V’s elected to play up the hill, so pressure was on us to score some tries!
Given the slope and wind, we had to be 2 tries ahead, at half time to have a decent chance of holding on in the second half.
Despite the muddy conditions, the game got off to a flying start. Both sides putting a huge amount of effort into attack, our defence held well, with numerous tackles coming in from Connor, James Coops and Tom.
But a break from one of their inside runners resulted in V’s first try, not converted.
Back into the run of the game and both sides are still looking equal, as V’s line up left, we are slow to respond, leaving Jack Taylor on his own. Jack rushed up to execute one of his bone crushing tackles, but the ball is passed on down the line and the over-lap is exploited to give V’s their second try of the game. Again not converted. This one was our fault, as I politely and reasonably pointed out to you under the posts.
It did galvanise us into action! The level of commitment rose. The tackling was of the highest order, our possession increased, and we managed to work some space for Bobbie on the right wing, who finished well for our first score. 10-5
Fresh legs on! Luke one of our new boys, moved into the back row. As always his tackling and support play was fantastic, and Felix in at hooker, a whirlwind of activity, tackling hard and distributing well. Harvey having a fantastic game, picked up a bang on the nose and came off to have it checked out.
Liam came on at scrum half, Jude moved to fly half.
Through good forward play, Lester and Jallen led drives, we find ourselves just outside the V’s 22. A move is called, Brooksie off on a great dummy run, ball popped up to Jaidan, Jude, loops, steps and is in under the posts. Jude converts.
We’ve got ourselves back into the game and at half time we are 10-12 up.
Not the two tries I thought we needed, but just two points. At this point, given the slope and wind, I thought we had left ourselves too much to do.
But the same commitment was shown in the second half, and although V’s scored an early try, to make the score 15-12, we never stopped tackling.
We were in our own 22 for long periods, but our defence was awesome. From the front row Dom Mad, Xavier, and Felix, put in an enormous shift, giving away size but never going backwards in scrums or during open play. Ezekiel, carrying so well, always a thorn in the opposition’s side. Lester! Another new boy this year, always looking for work, tackling well and running with more confidence every game. Jallen his wingman, wise beyond his years. Rapidly becoming a scholar of the game. Our back row of Tom, Connor, Luke and Coops, how can I talk of individuals! You are now truly a unit, all of you made an insane amount of tackles!
The backs also, Liam like a terrier always digging the ball out. Jude and Harvey having there best games of the season. Passing, kicking and breaking, the Holy Trinity of Rugby!
Brooksie and Hughsie, Brooksie showing more power with every game, both in tackling and running. Hughsie! Has his best game of the season! Great show and goes! Helping to pin back V’s in the second half.
Our wingers, Jack Taylor, pound for pound, you are probably the best tackler I’ve ever seen. Jordan, some great breaks down the left wing in the second half, well done. Bobby V! Always putting panic in the opposition ranks, some great running, you were very unlucky not to get another try.
Ed Parge! What a game, and what a season you’ve had, strength in defence and balance in attack.
Now back to Jaidan, another new boy this season. Always looking for a break has a great run with the line beckoning, this could seal the win, but the pass in called forward and we are back for the scrum.
Into the last 5 minutes now, score still 13-12, V’s press hard with strong running, we are penalised on the edge of our 22. Now instead of a tap and go, V’s elect to take a penalty, from just outside our 22. An excellent strike sees the ball dissect the posts. 18-12 with just seconds on the clock.
We kick off; this is our last chance to attack! One-shot banjo! Although Jude calls it something else! The ball is caught safely, and ran back at us, we tackle well, V’s recycle, but Harvey’s line speed is excellent. He puts in a massive tackle on his opposite number, the ball goes loose, Ezekiel is on hand to scoop the ball up and make a run for the line, too far surely! But Ezekiel is unstoppable; he crashes over with 4 V’s players hanging off him! Just a massive individual effort
18-17 to V’s
I ask the ref how long? Time is up; conversion is last kick of the game.
No pressure then Harvey!
Harvey, you are a legend! Cool as you like, you pop the ball straight through the uprights! 18-19
Boys this doesn’t generally happen in real life, just in books and comics.
So please savour the moment.
You worked so hard for that victory and you really deserved it. You never gave up, and always kept yourselves in the game, if you resolve to do that, then anything can happen… and it did!
Hard luck to V’s who where superb throughout; they fought us for every inch.
No quarter given or expected, massive respect to the V’s coaches and boys.
Sunday 6th March Hertfordshire Plate Semi-Final
OA’s U15 C’s 0
“Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the nineteen.”
On this occasion we found ourselves to be a victim of our own success. Having won the County Shield last year, and being at the top of our League, We were promoted to the Plate competition. This was always going to be a tough test. Indeed, would we even have the stomach for the fight?
We meet up in the changing rooms where we had a discussion.
We have to make our tackles, the breakdown will be tough, lets try and keep the ball alive and off the ground. Remember your 5 T’s of Rugby.
We have some time on the warm up pitch, it’s ankle deep with mud. This will be a really tough morning.
Harpenden are training next to us now, a full squad and more. Five players over six foot and clutch of County players…
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the players knew
Someone had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the nineteen.”
The game started at a great pace, despite the heavy conditions.
And the C’s bravely made their mark, not a backward step not a tackle missed. For fifteen brave minutes we hold fast and even ask a few questions of the Harpenden defence. I can’t pick out individuals in this effort as everyone made a massive contribution. Despite being two leagues below Harpenden, the boys kept their shape, were strong over the ball and won their set piece.
But the strength of the Harpenden inside runners eventually took its toll. It was taking two sometimes three defenders to bring down the larger runners and this forced us narrow and we lost our shape, space on the outside for their quick winger and the try is scored.
A few words under the posts and back into the fray. Harpenden continue to punish us with their close runners, and further tries come, four in all in the first half, but we never gave up and our heads never went down. We even had a few runs of our own, Jude making numerous snipes from scrum half, Bobbie always closely marked, but managing a couple of impressive runs, and our highlight of the half. Harvey making a fantastic break, normally you would have had a bit of support, but with the pressure we were under plus the heavy ground, no one could muster the energy to get close to you. You did the right thing Harvey, by kicking ahead and putting the ball deep in there half.
Just before half time and Liam puts in a brave tackle, but unfortunately is hurt in the process. He summed up the effort of the half, all over the field the boys where putting in the bravest of tackles.
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Mark Twain
Second half, and if anything we pick our game up! Again our shape is good and we really hold out for long periods of play.
Then… Ezekiel, sticks a leg out Catches the Harpenden prop. Right in front of the Ref. He reaches into his pocket. It’s a red. Ezekiel is off.
Boys this is rugby: from last gasp try scoring hero last week to recipient of a red card this week. We must learn. The referee does not punish us; he simply applies the Laws of Rugby. We punish ourselves when we do things like this.
Thanks to the coaches at Harpenden, who allowed us to field 15 players for the rest of the game.
And we tried our best; we kept Harpenden down to two second half tries, through a monumental effort of tackling.
We also had our moments, Jude was unlucky not to score after a fantastic break outside the Harpenden 22, that saw him pulled down just short of the line, and his pass to Bobby went to ground. And Xavier and Lester, carrying with such confidence.
Boys you didn’t win a rugby match, but you won in so many other ways. You won the unconditional respect of your coaching staff. You won the admiration of all of your family and friends on the touchline. You grew as individuals and we grew as a team.
They had some very big boys, we didn’t, we had some very brave boys, who were too stubborn and too proud to ever give up or let their heads go down.
The effort you showed in this magnificent defeat was off the scale and I hope you appreciate the strength of character you showed on that morning.
Keep playing like that and the World’s our Lobster!
I’ll give the last word to Winston Churchill:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Sunday 2nd Feb 2015
OV’s vs OA’s U14C’s 14-31
A cold, damp muddy morning, an early KO, a team we have come up against twice, and lost to, twice this season. Things could have looked bleak, but we had a good discussion in the changing room. We decided to embrace everything, that was stacked against us and see the whole morning as an opportunity. An opportunity to cause an upset, to turn the tables. Realistically we where the under dogs, and we where happy to embrace this status, we had a plan, and we prepared well in our warm ups.
The boys got in a rhythm quickly in the passing drills; everyone’s hands were switched on, crucial to our fast passing game. An excellent rucking drill from Graham, got the boys working well over the ball, we had to be competitive in this area if we were to make headway in the game. The boys worked hard, and where ready.
Lawrence, chose ends, and as we had discussed, opted to play up the hill. This was a day to embrace all the challenges presented to us, if we kept OV’s out in the first half we would have the slope in the second. We saw this as another opportunity.
We had a plan, we knew we had to stop the OV’s strike runners, in our last two encounters, we were put to the sword early, and gave away quick tries to their close channel runners. Could we stop the inevitable onslaught?
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Addy had been given the task of preventing the big OV’s centre from playing his usual devastating game. Addy was simply immense. Giving away a good deal of height and weight, Addy ruthlessly effective in closing down his opposite number; he kept us in the game in the first half. Strong, brave committed rugby, well done. The boys, supported well, great in first phase, not taking a backward step in the scrums, our front row had a very strong start, Harry, Xavier and Dom. Although Harry’s strength is rapidly becoming something of legend, the scrum never wheels, and Xavier and Dom really need credit for this. Of course Karim also needs credit in this department, as when he comes on, the set piece remains just as solid.
Every member of the team, held their lines and tackled bravely, Jack Martin showed his diverse skill set, by starting in the second row, moving into the back row, and even helping out at prop when Dom left the pitch with an injured thumb, but back to the first half; With the slope, OV’s kept long periods of pressure on us, we are caught ball watching, our backs awere much too narrow, and after the valiant efforts of the first ten minutes we give away a soft try, where all OV’s have to do is make two simple passes to out flank us, and run in under the posts.
We re-group, some stern words, from me, in hind site, too stern. We where playing so well up until this point, I let the frustration, of our defence being caught narrow, show. Passions where running high. It was at this point we lost Jordan to a back spasm, after looking sharp in the first 15 minutes, he was now unfortunately sidelined.
We held strong, for the next period of play, tackles going in, Bobby showing great physicality, James Sugden, Tom Master, Brooksie, Guy, James NR, Miles, Hughsie. They started to blur into one huge effort from the boys.
Then a piece of individual brilliance from the OV’s fly half, and he’s through our line, and under the posts, we are now looking at a 14 point deficit! Still we had the slope in the second half, and if we kept them to two scores, I felt we could come back. Then a huge effort by us, sees us pressing hard at the OV’s line, they go off side, and it gives us a chance to run our new penalty moves, we unleash the monster that is; Harry Collins. He drives on for the line, and he’s over for our first try, Jude converts.
We hold out for the rest of the half, and we know, we are in the game.
From the start of the half we look commanding, our game management is very good, Lawrence and Jude, distribution, top drawer, Lawrence mixing up the play beautifully, raking kicks and floated passes, mixed in with customary, show and goes!
We have the slope, and It’s not long, before Bobby, breaks away, puts the after burners on and touches down wide out on the left.
OV’s dig in and make it tough for us, but using the slope and elements we are able to keep them pinned down in there half, we start to generate real momentum, Guy, is everywhere, tackling them to stand still, and so strong over the ball. Harry looking for work in open play takes a good pass direct from Jude, and he is off on a strong run, he’s unstoppable, and over for his second try. Harry this is great play, to go looking for the ball like this in open play is just what we have been talking about, and it really makes you an attacking asset to the team.
Now we are now looking unstoppable, runners are coming from everywhere! Miles making some great breaks, Connor strong, fast, always looking to steal opposition ball. Ed P makes great yards after fielding a high ball, James NR, breaking from 8, and looking dangerous, hair up on end! Xavier, flying down the left wing! Breaking tackle after tackle, stuff of legend.
Jack Taylor, always tackling; now looking sharp in attack. Felix linking well as always, always alert to an opportunity. Sam Wicks on in the second row, working hard, and showing good strength over the ball. Tom Masters, looking more of a physical presence with each game. After a magnificent defensive display, Addy shows us what he can do ball in hand, he breaks with pace and power, and is in under the posts. Jude makes sure with the conversion.
The clock is running down, and we are camped in the OV’s 22. Another infringement from the OV’s forwards and the we are awarded a penalty out on the left wing, Harry is again unleashed on the opposition, and he’s too powerful to stop, He’s over for his hat-trick, great strength. Jude steps up for the conversion, from wide out left and into the wind, a great attempt sees the ball hang up in the wind and float over the cross bar! When things go well!!
This was an outstanding performance, where every member of the team, stood up and performed to the best of their ability. We really raised our bench mark again, and were rewarded with a memorable victory and a cup run!
Our work rate was exceptional, and the game was both thrilling and riveting in equal measures, what a great one to win, well done boys, you can feel proud of yourselves.
Next week, League against Cheshunt details to follow
Sunday January 25th
Fullerians A vs OAs A Score: 12-41
Sunday December 7th
Ealing a vs OAs A Score: 15-7
Sunday 30th Nov
Tring B Vs OA’s C (Friendly) Score: 5-38
A foggy A41, but a dry and beautiful autumn morning.
The 1st Team Pitch at Tring RFC was in good condition, and we received a warm welcome.
Missing, Karim Hoceine and Sam Wicks, and Tom Masters who after his heroics last week fell foul of flu this week.
The preparation this week was again good. First handling skills and support plays then a re cap of Graham’s excellent rucking drill.
Right from the kick off the ball came back to Lawrence, who supplied Bobby with an excellent pass. Bobby ran in from his own 10 meter line for the first of his tries.
A great start, but we were up against a well drilled and competitive Tring side. The next five minutes saw play settle down, with the two sides locking horns. Just as the game was in danger of becoming bogged down, Lawrence put through a raking kick, into the slopping bottom left hand corner, Bobby and Addy where off like greyhounds out of the traps! Bobby gathered well and was in for his second try!
Going two tries up quickly, really put us in the Boss Seat, we took our chances really well. But I must say, Tring were a good side, and where often very unlucky as their handling or last pass let them down. The score could have been much closer.
But we make our own luck, and today the boys really applied their skills well. Our tackling was good throughout and our rucking was much improved!
The boys make it a pleasure, when they listen and apply the skills presented to them. After Graham’s drill it was fantastic to see backs and forwards mix it up together, to win the ball back for our excellent backs.
This was a whole team performance, the front row of Harry, Xavier and Dom, where great. Harry; so strong in the loose, Dom as much of a back rower as a prop, and Xavier always looking to come on to the ball at pace, great work rate. Second rows of Jallen and James, where always busy, great tackling, Jallen putting in a strong early tackle on there big prop and James ever present at the rucks, great stuff boys!
Our back row was awesome, Jack was strong at 8, always looking to drive the ball into contact, and always making sure the ball came back our way, great presentation. JNR! Just great stuff!, running well, great tackling, always a presence, the harder you play the more your hair sticks up! Felix, always busy, linking well, covering at 9 when Jude was rucking, and the most fantastic sitting down catch! Connor, tackles where great, and what a run down the clubhouse touchline!!
The backs, always working hard!
Jude, great tackling, good distribution, fine kicks, If your leg grows a couple of inches, your going to land those conversions from the touchline!
Lawrence, put in a very mature performance at 10, game management was superb. Made the right decisions, topped off with a ‘Barry John’ try, great work! Throwing some outrageous dummies!!
Hughsie, great tackles, took the ball into contact really well, good distribution, Brooksie; great hands, when Bobby came off, half way through second half, the
two of you, really backed each other in. Took your runs well and made your passes well.
Bobby V, a fine display of powerful running, always looking for the break, and very high work rate, five tries!! Congratulations.
Jack Taylor, just great tackles, one in particular, in the clubhouse corner, was a certain try if you hadn’t caught the lad’s ankles.
Jordon, always looking sharp, good runs, remember to start your runs early, find the runners outside shoulder, and call for the ball.
Addy, really strong running, I don’t believe you didn’t go in under the posts, in the first half, the team couldn’t believe it either. That’s why no one was in support! I’d actually picked up the kicking Tee!
Eddie P, wow, your tackling MoJo has returned! And great strong running! When you went to ground, presentation was on point! The ball always came back our way, keep running! Those tries will come.
Top performance, when the pianos needed moving, they were moved, when they needed to be played, they were played!
The forwards, won good ball and re cycled well, the backs scored some great tries. Lets build on this for our league game against Hitchin next week.
Sunday 23rd Nov:
Old Elthmians A 26 Old Albanians A 0
Super 10 lessons to learn
We knew the Super 10 competition would provide the challenge the team needs to improve, and a tough day against Old Elthamians showed there are lessons to take on board. After a great effort and close run match against Southend, the driving rain in SE9 wasn’t enough to wake up the travelling OAs before they got mugged by a strong and well-drilled team.
The warm-up focussed on playing the tough conditions with short, safe passes, looking after the ball in contact, using the forwards and mini-Manu Leon to make yards, before aiming for space. Taking too long to get over the long trek down south, early passes were dropped under severe pressure from a sharp, aggressive defence, tackles were missed and three quick tries conceded.
Old Es played the conditions better, using their forwards and deploying runners from deep. The usual OAs quick passing flat relentless phases game which had impressed Southend couldn’t get going against great line speed and physicality. OAs kept trying to run the ball wide as errors continued. Miles moved into the centre and steadied the midfield but we lacked our usual cutting edge and struggled to use our pace on the wings. We finally emerged from our half and crossed their line only for the ref to rule a marginal forward pass.
The second half saw OAs spirit and intensity improve, finally building some pressure, keeping the ball through some phases. A kicking game was belatedly discovered putting the OEs in their 22. Well disciplined defence kept OAs out until an overlap looked certain to put Timmy into the corner. Again the home team’s line speed showed as their centre read the pass, intercepted and ran the length of the pitch. There was no way back and OEs camped in our half for much of the remainder, effective clearing our lines another lesson to learn.
Plenty to work on and the level of intensity and technique needed will be a lesson for players who have excelled against less strong opposition. Executing the basics well even in tough conditions is a simple requirement to compete at this level. Good teams will exploit disorganised defence and missed tackles – 6 in two games meant 6 tries conceded, and we got away with others.
Luckily we have an immediate chance to get back to winning ways with a visit to Ealing to recapture our winning form in the league. Worth looking at the Southend and OE match reports for their view of OAs as opposition. There are huge positives across the squad and plenty to work on in training to achieve the standards we want.
Old Elthamians Vs OA’s C (Friendly) Score: 7-46
The journey was epic, the rain was biblical. How do you get to Old Elthamians? Through the tunnel, and turn left at Noah’s Ark, and you’re there!
Thanks to everyone for making the effort to turn up, and Wow, the boys really turned up!
Over the last few weeks, we’ve talked about a number of ways to make ourselves more competitive. To support each other in open play, so no one is isolated.
To ruck more effectively and not to get counter rucked off the ball.
To pass the ball with confidence, and make attacking breaks early.
In the game today, we took the pitch with confidence and played attacking, attractive rugby from the first whistle.
Against OV’s we where guilty of, half-hearted first tackles, today our first up tackles where excellent. We found our rhythm early, the Ref had a good game and allowed play to flow despite the tough conditions.
Our handling was superb, and most importantly we recycled our ball effectively. Many thanks to Graham who ran a fantastic rucking session on Tuesday, and many thanks to the boys who applied what they had learned to great effect. Rugby is a different game when the ball is in front of you, and that’s where we kept the ball for most of the game. So it’s not surprising the trys came thick and fast.
The ball kicked through to Eddie at full back, he gathers and counters with poise and pace, cuts through the opposition defence and he’s in under the posts, Eddie has no problem converting his own try.
Other trys from Bobby V, (3) Addy (2) Jack Martin (1) James NR (1)
Jude, Conversions (2)
All the trys where well worked and the culmination of good team efforts.
The try that stood out for me, was James NRs. After working on rucking and close support runs on Tuesday. James came on a close support run, communicated well to Jude, received a good pop pass, and showed great strength and determination to get over the line and ground the ball.
It’s very hard to pick out individuals, from what was a great team performance. Lets learn from this and apply the same core values when we are put under greater pressure.
Well done to all the boys, you all got stuck in, and won a fantastic game of rugby!
OAs B vs Ruislip B Nov.16th
OAs A vs Southend Nov.9th
If we were going to lose this was a good way to go down, fighting to the end, very proud of the lads and level of performance and going forward plenty to continue to work on.
A team v Teddington Oct. 2014
After a narrow loss against a well drilled Tring side we had the opportunity to get our League season up and running against BOE RFC on Sunday.An early start caused a few problems for the coaching staff, but once we got down to the wonderful facilities at Roehampton, all attention was on the match ahead.The boys seemed very focussed before the match and a good warm-up meant we were raring to go.From the whistle we were immediately under pressure as we allowed the ball to BOUNCE !!( we have to get better at restarts) and BOE had possession just outside our 22. They moved the ball left and right but our defense was magnificent. James took an early knock and had to come off with a dead leg. JD into the action.This initial passage of play had to be the longest ever recorded in any game of Rugby ever, as the ref didn’t blow his whiste for what seemed like 17 minutes. Eventually OAs went offside at the breakdown and BOE were awarded a penalty in the middle of the pitch right on our 22.We were back ready to defend and they gave the ball to their biggest player who took the ball at full tilt but hadn’t banked on running into Lawrence Stewart…what a tackle!!!! Lawrence cut him in half and we stole the ball and cleared to safety…heroic stuff. Unfortunately Lawrence had an almighty whack on the head and had to leave the field but in that one defining moment set the marker for us for the rest of the Season!! Jed on.Once we weathered the initial storm we soon got into our stride once we managd to get hold of the ball. Some great kicking from hand from Harvey gave us good field position and quick hands in midfield from Jack and Gabriel set Timmy up with a bit of space on the outside. He didn’t need a second invitation and was soon past 3 defenders to go in under the posts. Ed added the extras and 0-7 to OAs….happy days !!BOE came back at us but we held them up in the takle and got the put in at the scrum. A great scrummage (Our Scrum was great all day…well done up front guys, especially the tight 5 who played the whole match…STRONG!!!) and Bam picked up from the base, went blind, drew the cover and once again gave Timmy the opportunity to show his pace and outstrip the defence down the left wing. Ed converted again 0 – 14.With an almost uncanny sense of deja vu the away supporters were starting to get a little too comfortable when they saw a great break from Jed, who fed Timmy again and he was off down the left wing like a man possessed. Unfortunately, this time there was a different result as the home cover defence did magnificently to hold Timmy up over the line when a try looked a certainty…. but no matter…..from the resulting scrum Bam picked up and crashed over the line for our 3rd try of the day. More extras from Ed and 0-21 the scoreline at half-time.We made a few changes at half-time with a new centre pairing of Ben and Asa, David coming on at right wing with Eddie moving to full back. Upfront Will came on to replace Harry and then we were off once again.Our kick and BOE failed to secure the ball which we quickly recycled and worked the ball to David to make a strong dart down the right wing, we quickly won the next ruck, moved the ball into midfield to Asa who baffled more defenders with his Phil Bennett like sidestep than I have seen for ages…the back-row took over with Bam and Jed carrying strongly right upto their try line where we were held up until Crazy Legs crashed over and Havey converted 0 – 28.From their restart Joe Woodger ( good shout on this restart Joe! ) set off on a strong run, bashed over half their pack but we failed to secure the ball and they turned us over. BOE started to get a bit of possession and we were certainly on the back foot. Strong carrying and quick feet from their big centre saw him slip through a couple of tackles to score under our posts which was converted 7 – 28From the restart BOE came right back at us but some good work on the floor led to a chance to attack from our own half. Quick ball from JD to Harv, into midfield, cracking dummy from Ben, which half the touchline bought as well as the home defence, setup Timmy on the left wing to run in from half way…no mistake dotting the ball down this time….a bit wider out….and a great conversion from Harv made it 7-35.From the restart we did well to turn the ball over but then manage to cough the ball up quite cheaply. BOE worked it to their dangerman again who burst through from outside the 22 and scores under our posts again which they convert 14 – 35.The magic sponge had done a good job so James was back on the pitch and straight back into the thick of it. We had BOE under a lot of pressure in their own 22 and from an OA knock on BOE had put in at the scrum 10 metres from their own line. They put the ball in and immediately found themselves travelling back at a rate of knots as Ben Y, George and Joe W had them in all sorts of bother in the front row. The Ref penalised us for driving further than 1.5 metres but our pack knew who had the moral high ground!! BOE kicked to touch from the penalty for what was only one of the very few lineouts in the game ( I don’t think we actually had a sigle throw in all day ). Some awesome work at the front saw Joe Webb rise like a leaping salmon and go “route one” straight through their line out, deep into their 22 where we recycled quickly and James span out of a couple of tackles to score out wide..no conversion. 14 – 40Straight from their kick off ( no call from anyone on our side !! ) Jed managed to pick the ball 3 mm off the floor and set off. He went through what seeemd like their whole pack, shugging off tackles left and right, through their midfield, around their fullback and outpaced their winger to dot down in the corner…..fantastic!! Good conversion attempt but no cigar…. 14 – 45.We kept playing some great rugby and Will was unlucky?? not to score in the corner…i’ve seen those given on other days.Right at the death we almost scored what would have been the try of the day as our backs cut lose, great hands getting the ball away from the breakdown and into space, Eddie slicing through a gap at full speed to release Timmy again down the left wing but BOE did just enough to bundle him into touch in the corner, just before the final whistle.We wish BOE RFC good luck for the rest of season and hopefully can have a friendly against them at Woolhams next spring.Overall a really great morning’s rugby at a wonderful ground….an awsome performance from the whole team, with every single player contributing.Well done !!!Nick and STEVE, STEVE, STEVEC Team
Line-up: Harry, JAllen, Tom, James S, Jude, Lawrence, Jack T, James NR, Chris, Addy, Bobby, Jordan, Dom, Xavier, Felix, Karim, Sam, Connor, Brooksie.
OA’s 27 v 27 Hitchin B
Another sunny day at Woollams welcomed a Hitchin B team who are in the same division as us this year for a hastily arranged friendly following Ruislip B pulling out of the league fixture giving us our first “win”of the season. We agreed with the opposition to play four quarters of 12.5 minutes not 13 (pointed out to me that the boys aren’t allowed to play more than 50 minutes – thank you Sir for the maths lesson).
Q1 – Score 12 v 5 to Hitchin
Hitchin came out of the traps quickly and strongly and immediately put us under pressure and Bobby and Lawrence both made important tackles as Hitchin broke the line on a couple of occasions and Jude found a good kick to touch to relieve some of the pressure. Eventually however Hitchin made the breakthrough with the first try – it was obvious that this was going to be a big test for the boys as Hitchin were a big side especially in midfield although rarely moved the ball to the wings.
After a good first scrum the ball found its way to Bobby and he did the rest, touching down in the corner to bring the scores level.
Although we knocked the kick-out forward al the boys were alert to the danger and played to the whistle and Xavier secured the ball to prevent any advantage – good intelligent play.
Hitchin again started applying the pressure and after a brilliant tackle by Chris on one of their giants we gave away two penalties in quick succession for high tackles that resulted in a try for the away team that they converted to make the score 12 v 5.
Just time after the re-start for Jack T to secure turnover ball after a crunching tackle on their wing.
By this stage we were effectively down to a squad of 18 as Dom had suffered a knock to his elbow after unceremoniously being swung to the ground by a Hitchin forward long after the ball had gone – unfortunately not picked up by the ref who had already twice picked up Hitchin for swearing. Dom should be commended for taking a mature approach to staying off to prevent further injury.
Lesson for our boys there as on one occasion their winger had got a clear run to the line before the ref awarded us a penalty and pointed out to the Hitchin forward that he had stopped a certain try for his team.
Also Ref picked us up at least twice for tackling technique – remember, cheek-to-cheek, go low & ‘ring of steel’!
Q2 – Score 5 v 0 to Hitchin
Hitchin started the second quarter where they left-off in the first quarter and quickly put us under pressure but good tackling from Connor and good kicking from Lawrence again gave us some brief respite. Harry then secured the ball from successive line-outs, one from Karim and one from a Hitchin throw.
Addy was making some strong runs through the centre and rolling brilliantly through some of the tackles and Xavier made some strong tackles as Hitchin came forward yet again. They eventually broke through and won the second quarter 5:0.
We were finding it difficult to bring down and at times even slow down some of the Hitchin guys once they had a bit of momentum so some strong words at half-time to remember our tackling technique, get low and double up.
Q3 – Score 10 v 5 to Hitchin
A much better quarter from OA’s and although we lost 2 tries to 1 had a lot more of the possession and defended much better. Another good scrum and excellent decision making from Lawrence saw his forward kick“dribbled” half the length of the pitch by Bobby who out-paced and out-muscled the Hitchin defence.The tackling improved immensely in this period. Jude put in a try saving tackle and JAllen slowed down the biggest of the Hitchin forwards and help arrived to bring him down – more of that please! As always Brooksie’s tackling was immense & great support and tackles from james s, sam and tom m helped the game move our way.
Q4 – Score 17 v 0 to OA’s
Great comedy moment as Jackie turns to me and says “Why have we got 5 subs? Haven’t we got 19 today?”. Used all my fingers and toes and eventually agreed – was Bob getting so confident of turning it around in the last quarter that he had decided to only put 14 on the pitch? As he openly admitted afterwards he almost shouted “Hands up who’s missing?”
Anyway, as the score suggests we dominated this last quarter as Hitchin started to tire – testament to the fitness and determination of our boys.For the first time in the match we executed some fantastic clear-outs with JAllen, Connor & Karim combining to secure the ball for Lawrence to get it to Bobby who ran in another two tries one converted expertly by Jude – all of a sudden the overall score was 27 v 22 with five minutes left to play. We were now starting to believe in ourselves with both Felix and Hughsie launching penetrating runs as we started to put some phases together resulting eventually in Harry putting the ball over the line only for the ref to decide he was held up. There was no stopping Addy however as he was finally rewarded for his skilful running with a try to bring the scores level for the last action of the game – a fantastic comeback.
Overall a very pleasing ending to what at first looked like was going to be a very long morning for the boys. Still lots to work on in terms of our tackling, support play and clearing out especially but we have had lots of changes to the squad from last year and some of the boys not necessarily playing in their favoured positions. James NR led the forwards line – always looking to take it on and break and threw himself into defense when it was needed (which was a lot!). Saying that we showed a lot of character to come back from 27 v 10. The boys never gave up and grew in stature and belief as the game wore on and some brave tackling from many against some scary opponents.