U16 Match Reports

2016/17 Season (U16) Match Reports
2015/16 Season (U15) Match Reports
 Special report from Bob on C’s County Cup journey

Sunday 28th February Hertfordshire Plate Quarter-Final

Verulamians 18

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

Cue pandemonium.

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

Harpenden 38

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.

half time.

“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.”

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2014/15 Season (U14) Match Reports
Sunday March 1st Old Albanians A – 26 vs Hitchin – 7
The County cup semi final signalled the visit of Division two’s Hitchin.
The visitors were sensing a possible giant killing as they went ahead
shortly after the
start, with a well worked catch and drive from a line out on their left
wing.
The men in mauve looked nailed on to move into double figures, were it not
for a fine
last ditch tackle from Lofts, eight metres out.
The move came to nothing and the ball was eventually punted up field, OA’s
making
heavy weather of clearing the decks.
Perennial slow starters, OA’s unsurprisingly repeated the theme in this
game, the
indignity of trailing, again percolating into something positive.
A hack upfield from Trehy led to a scrum ten metres out and yielded some
much
needed possession, the ball now thankfully being recycled with much more
care.
The hosts now camped in the Hitchin half kept struggling to get the ball out
wide as
phase after phase ended up involving the forwards instead of a winger.
Excellent Runs from Wilmott, Wheeler and Williamson made inroads but the
well
organised Hitchin defence spat the OA’s efforts back out, illustrating how
they can be
confident of holding their own in the top tier next season, should they gain
elevation.
OA’s weren’t having it all their own way though with Hitchin having a go at
every
diminishing opportunity, the stand out tacklers of the first half being Cane
and Lofts
with some great defence to keep the visitors at arms length.
With the interval looming, the ball was moving with better rhythm through
the OA
hands, culminating in a forwards juggernaut which was finished of by the
ubiquitous
Lofts.
Westcombe Evans’s conversion levelled the score at 7:7 on the stroke of half
time.
The second half was to prove more comfortable for the cup holders as the
gulf in
class became more evident.
The first ten minutes of the second period was scoreless but plenty to enjoy
for the
home supporters, with some bruising tackles from Lear around the breakdown,
a near
score by Johns shepherded out five metres short and Lofts with a
demoralising plough
through the Hitchin ranks.
An inventive cross field kick from Williamson put OA`s ten metres from the
Hitchin
goal line, Dilks and Lear both held on the whitewash from the resulting line
out as the
visitors defence was being posed some ever sterner questions.
Surely all this domination should count for something, you might ask.
The answer was yes, as the impressive Wilmott turned a pigs ear of a pass
into a silk
purse of a try to finally break the deadlock.
OA`s traditionally finish strongly and today was to be no different, as Ali
looked to have
scored out left only to have the effort chalked off, adjudged held up.
The disappointment was however short lived, Lear surfacing from the back of
a scrum
proving too much for Hitchin to cope with, powering over.
A brilliant kick from an acute angle in the now blustery conditions by
Wescombe Evans
secured the extras, OA`s now looking good for the cup final 19:7.
A rare second half excursion into the OA twenty two saw a last ditch tackle
from
Wilmott before the ever combative Williamson ripped the ball to allow Ali a
chance at
putting the record straight regarding his earlier disappointment, which he
did with
aplomb.
Another Wescome Evans conversion saw the game end at 26:7.
A special mention for the un sung heroics of the first aid team of Shirley
lofts and her
able assistant Danny Carter snr for a fine display including the champagne
moment with
Danny Carter snr`s cameo, standing in at number ten for the hosts.

 

Sunday February 15th OAs A vs Bedford 34-0
A victory against second placed Bedford was a must if the OAs were to get a chance to defend their league championship against fierce rivals Hertford.
Bedford were given anything but a warm welcome to Woolams as the hosts got the bit between their teeth from the off.
The blues were promptly pressed into their own half, where they were to spend a besieged ninety five percent of the first period.
The intensity from the OA forwards at the breakdown had Bedford helplessly back peddling as wave after wave cleared out any attempts at getting over the ball.
OAs high line defending strangled anything that was brewing in the blue quarter, the pressure causing half hearted and wayward passing.
With ball in hand the home side were equally as brutal, Wheeler with his now trade mark Vunipola-esque assaults down the middle causing further distress, signalling a gradual retreat into the Bedford twenty two.
Two moves through the OA back line saw the ball lost, before a scrum again won against the head, ten metres out finally yielded some fruit, Lear putting Trehy through to score.
Further domination followed, Grant then Driscoll going torturously close on the right wing, Wheeler then Bamborough both held up on the Bedford try line as the men in blue courageously defended for their lives.
After ten minutes of clinging on, Bedfords defence was at last breached, Lear again from the back of the scrum, this time taking the ball over the line himself.
The ball was passed around with swagger and style throughout the first period by OAs only for the final product to fail, with the score only 10:0 at the interval, it was a tale of missed opportunities.
The second half carried on in the same vein as quality link up play from Bamborough, Cane and Hocking was undone by a needless knock on.
The next two phases had a happier ending however, the impressive Cane flying over on the right, having the forethought to place the ball between the posts, giving Westcombe Evans the easiest of conversions.
The visitors restarted seventeen points behind and it wasn’t long before they were five points further adrift, Hocking catching the restart then proceeding up field, smashing his way through anything in his path to score a truly magnificent solo try.
With the four try bonus point secured, the apparently hopeless situation Bedford found themselves in seemed to rejuvenate their spirits a little.
More gritty hits from Ali and Millar, two last gasp tackles from Grant on the OA left wing and a souvenir black eye for Westcombe Evans heroic efforts on the OA try line kept the visitors at bay throughout their belated resurgence .
A high tackle from Williamson gave Bedford a penalty twenty five metres out which they chose to kick, presumably now just wanting to go home without a nil, unfortunately for them it was not to be.
The failed kick took the wind from the Bedford sails, OAs gaining territory through a clever grubber kick from the devilish boot of halfback Sherwood.
More slick handling gained further ground, another scrum won against the head, Millar fishing it out to Lear, Trehy yet again anticipating, on hand to accept a defence splitting pass to score.
Final score of the match, another powerful surge from Hocking, another try for Lear, rounded off with a Sherwood conversion.
34:0.
Sunday February 8th OAs vs Saracens 42-17
Saracens
A marked step up in quality of opposition this week as OA welcomed Saracens to Woolams, the men from St Albans continuing their league title pursuit, having progressed in the County cup a week earlier.
Saracens had the better of the early exchanges, the only highlight for OA was winning two scrums against the head, albeit in their own twenty two.
Sloppy handling coming out of defence gave the visitors the chink of daylight they needed, promptly accepting the gift and going ahead out on the left.
It was game on, as someone once said.
A near immediate reply from OAs thankfully, Wilmott keeping a move alive catching a high wayward pass. Two phases later the combative Lear scored on the right wing, better handling through the backs giving him the opportunity.
Saracens threadbare numbers were looking stretched as their impressive number eight came off for some first aid, the recipient of a bone shaking tackle from Wheeler.
With their only sub on, the North London outfit couldn’t afford any more casualties.
Saracens weren’t phased by this set back, OA again coughing up the ball after going into contact far too near their own goal line. Again reluctance to secure the ball giving the visitors possession that they hadn’t really earned, this occasion resulting in a five metre scrum that they scored off the back of. 5:12.
It wasn’t long though, before the home team came up with a fantastic reply as Williamson broke through the gain line, passing to Wilmott then looping to accept the ball back and score, high class stuff.
10:12 at the break.
OA’s were to get their noses in front early in the second half, quick ball across the back line ending with Ali thankfully getting on the score sheet, a carbon copy of the move a minute before which resulted in the speedy winger agonisingly knocking on a poor pass at ankle height.
There’s usually a turning point in a match and this seemed to be it.
The combination of Saracens continually flouting the offside laws and OA’s reverting to a more orthodox approach at the breakdown was shifting the balance towards the hosts.
Another offside was given, this time with a Brucie bonus of an extra ten metres for vocal impropriety, the referees patience being tested.
With the extra metres gained came another turnover to Saracens, but this time the tenacious Trehy tore the ball, starting a move which he was to finish, Hocking and Wilmott carving up Saracens en route. Westcombe Evans slotting the two extras. 22:12
Lack of Saracens subs and continual player rotation by OA started to take its toll, the rarely mentioned forwards pounding into the weary red and black defence on the right wing, setting up Westcombe-Evans who spotted a hint of a dog leg and backing himself, cleverly cut in, scoring by the posts. 29:12
More scintillating attack play from OA’s, Lofts roaring up field from deep making over thirty metres, finding himself on the end of the resulting sortie to score a great forwards try.
36:12 and OA’s now in the driving seat.
A brief rally from Saracens saw them score a well worked try but it was never going to be enough.
Yet another offside and yet more Brucie bonus back chat from the visitors yielded a tap penalty launching the powerful Hocking on a mazy run, threshing all that stood in his way before inviting Cane to finish the move. Westcome-Evans converted the try as he had done with the previous two scores.
Final score 43:17.
Sunday February 1st OA’s A vs Letchworth: 46-10 Herts Cup
Competitive fixtures coming thick and fast entering Februry, this week seeing the visit of division two’s Letchworth in the County Cup.
Hopes raised early on as OA went into the lead courtesy of an angled run and subsequent try by Williamson, duly converted by Adams.
The visitors struggled to get into any sort of rhythm early on with Trehy and Wheeler in particular revelling in spoiling any vague attempts at creativity.
OA back in possession again and a move through the right wing saw the Letchworth defence sucked across to the ball. Unfortunately for them they couldn’t reset themselves in time for the OA’s backs to fizz the ball out to Ali, who scored on the left.
12:0 to the Cup holders and one would assume plain sailing here on in.
Alas a mixture of complacency and a lack of concentration was to seep into the play.
Letchworth were one dimensional and continued to try and mow up the middle of the park.
The hosts were tested for strength, OA forwards eventually managing to hold up a maul that seemed destined for the try line, as Letchworth at last gained a foothold in the match.
OA continued their newly found profligacy and it eventually cost them, another knock on providing the platform for the visitors to score with a powerful surge through the middle.
The score could have been closer at half time had it not been for the impressive Wheeler tidying up superbly after some poor house keeping from his team mates.
12:5 at the break, OA worryingly set to play the first eight minutes of the second half with fourteen men, Cane seeing yellow for over- exuberance.
The restart saw a fine kick from Adams knocked on by Letchworth on their twenty two metre line. The resulting OA scrum was creaking heavily under the pressure of the resurgent visitors, Millar at scrum half (courageously playing directly from his sick bed) somehow managed to ferret the ball out to Lear who duly went over, easing the nerves somewhat,17:5.
Being a man down at the start of the second half was looking like inspiring OAs, with some kind of Dunkirk spirit galvanising the ranks, or it could have been the half time rocket from Head Coach Trehy. Either way… it was working.
Anyway, back to the match.
Wilmott with a blistering run, went close to breaking through as the visitors started to feel some heat, Hocking going one better with Trehy and Lear unlocking the left wing door, for him to power through.
OAs now with a full compliment, held up yet another maul to set Cane off on a thirty metre journey, carrying three Letchworth defenders with him for the last ten metres of it, such was his determination to repay his earlier indiscretion.
With the territory gained, possession was with the visitors who had the put in, five metres out.
The scrum was won against the head though, Driscoll scooping up the ball and bravely crossing the line, 27:5.
More of the same, a powerful  run from Hocking was to provide the next score, thanks to a move involving Westcombe-Evans and Cane, starting deep in the OA half, 34:5.
Letchworth weren’t going without a fight, pulling one back after a five minute tussle on the OA right, 34:10.
Contender for champagne moment came next as a classy back of the hand pass from impressive stand in front row Webb released Lofts to dot over. 39:10
However, in a flash the ball was down the other end, Gossine this time coming to the rescue winning the ball, his counterpart unable to release, Letchworth continued to give plenty to this game, their effort & determination could never be called into question.
Last play and it was Lear’s turn to score, a deft pass from Hocking putting him into space, Westcombe-Evans shot the extras to make it 46:10.

 

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

After a run of indifferent performances the U14 first team arrived at
Fullerians looking to stop the rot and re- ignite their season.
The visitors hit the ground running as Williamson waded into the hosts
midfield, securing the ball for Westcombe-Evans, the number ten cleverly
delaying his pass to Cane who in turn set Ali off for the first score of the
match, the fly half in the action again, kicked the extras.
The shell shocked hosts were then caught napping at the restart, as Adams
caught the Fullers offering and ploughed straight through them to notch
another score.
0-12 and barely five minutes gone.
A period of resurgence followed as the hosts slowly gained ground,
encroaching into OA’s twenty two with a succession of scrums, the St Albans
outfit guilty of unnecessary ill discipline at the breakdown.
Some excellent defending resulted in the visitors eventually wrestling back
possession.
With all the hard work done, Fullers were gifted a try, as the temptation of
running from deep proved too much to resist.
5:12 and Fullers fortuitously back in the hunt.
Further consternation followed for the away faithful as a speculative kick
deep into OA territory eluded our full back, loosing his footing as he went
to field.
Thankfully Cane got there first, winning the heart stopping scramble.
This was the turning point of the match, as barely five minutes later, a
brutal rolling maul saw the hosts marched up thirty metres, Lear cashing in
on the forwards superiority to make it 5:17.
Increasing pressure was put on Fullerians, OA’s gaining more confidence as
the half went on.
More proof of that followed as Williamson made a brilliant solo burst
through the middle, with seemingly half the opposition team clinging to him,
an example of the desire now flowing through the OA ranks.
As half time approached it was time for the try of the match. A quick
thinking tap and go from Hocking on his own twenty two started a fantastic
move up the left wing, a great example of running straight and interchanging
at pace, coupling with Lear he finished superbly.
A reminder however that the Fullerians threat wasn’t dead as the whistle
blew for the interval, OA’s found themselves having to hold the ball up over
their own try line. The break saw the score stand at 5:22.
It was all OA’s after the break, it seemed all the lacklustre performances
of previous weeks had at last been laid to rest.
Every time Fullers were relieved of possession it seemed OA’s might score,
and score they did with Lear gathering a clearance kick, eventually seeing
Cane score via Wilmott and Williamson’s skilfully executed passing on the
right wing.
The fine flowing rugby continued, alas disappointingly a fantastic team
effort was  thwarted by a marginal knock on right on the try line, in a move
that involved over twenty passes.
The score was pushed along further as Lofts went over in the corner thanks
to Westcome- Evans’s catch and pass, 5:34.
Not to be out done by the backs, it was DC from the front row who made the
next try, brilliantly stealing the ball at the break down ten metres from
his own goal line, then beating his marker to send Hocking on his way to eat
up fifty metres, out gunning the Fullers number twelve in the process. As
with the previous try, Westcome-Evans converted.
A last gasp consolation for the beleaguered hosts made the final score
10-41.

 

Sunday December 7th

Ealing a vs OAs A Score: 15-7

They say nothing lasts forever and an unbeaten league sequence, stretching back
through two and a half seasons was inevitably going to be broken at some stage.
The leafy London suburb of Ealing was to be the venue as the U14 season continued
to inexplicably hit the buffers.
The home team started in imperious form and with OA`s immediately up against the
wall it was unsurprisingly first blood to Ealing, taking the ball at pace from deep
straight down the middle making it 7:0 after four minutes.
The highlights from the OA`s perspective were mainly defensive, Hocking stopping two
tries with brilliant last gasp tackles with Adolph getting in on the act showing equal
tenacity.
Poor handling and gifting the ball away at the line out was costing OA`s, time and time
again looking disjointed and void of any plan of attack, they invited Ealing to take full
advantage.
A glimpse of hope however for the away faithful as Adams hacked and chased up field
only for the ball to go through the back, out of play.
There was more hope to cling on to as the scrum in the most part was standing firm , but
once through the half backs, hesitancy took hold, OA`s caught in possession and too slow
to get over the ball on numerous occasions.
Ealing were sensing it could be their day and were visibly buoyed by the apparent disarray.
The half time break saw the score still stand at 7:0, miraculously OA`s still in the game
when Ealing could and should have been out of sight, were it not for some fine defensive
performances.
The second half began with Ealing unbelievably knocking the ball on two metres off the
OA try line, still they couldn’t add to their tally.
OA`s finally woke from their slumber as Cane managed to produce the first clearance kick
with any distance on it. Wilmott set off, taking a gamble that paid off as the ball sat up
perfectly for him. Still with much to do he showed Ealing a clean pair of heels to square
things up.
Ealing came back hard again, the likes of Carter, Wheeler and Lofts amongst those putting
in some mighty work keeping the hosts at bay through many phases of attack.
The  defence was finally breached on the left wing as the pressure eventually proved
irresistible.
Wilmott and Hocking threatened to level things up again running good yards, clawing their
way  back, for the first time in the match OA`s spending some time in the oppositions half.
A yellow card awarded to Ali and a very kickable penalty, both coming late in the game
were to prove the final nails in the OA coffin as OA`s play was seemingly the subject of ever
increasing scrutiny.
That aside the score line flattered OA`s as Ealing were by far the best team on the day.
Final 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

Having not played for a few weeks, last Sunday we had a good training session against the old enemy at Harpenden RFC, in order to prepare ourselves against Ruislip who finished mid table in League 3 last year this week.
The preparation paid off well as we were quickly into our stride straight from the kick off causing a turnover as they ran the ball back and we had a scrum centrefield just inside the oppo’s half. We had discussed No.8 pick-up just before kick-off and with a slight right-hand nudge in the scrum Bam picked up, made good ground before offloading to David on the right wing. David was brought down on the 22, great ball presentation enable Lawrence who was 1st there to secure the ball, the rest of the forwards  blasted Ruislip off the ball, quick hands from James to Harv and the ball quickly into midfield where we simply did EXACTLY THE RIGHT THINGS…..we ran straight, drew the man and  timed the passes to send Timmy into space and he continued where he left off against Bank of England by skinning the cover defense and ran round under the posts….easy conversion from Ed…7-0
From the restart ( RESTARTS WERE A LOT BETTER THIS WEEK LADS…WELL DONE!!) Ruislip gained possession and put together a few phases but we managed to turn the ball over but were on the back foot, great option from Harv to kick into the space behind and a good chase from Ed caused them to fumble near their 22. Once again we won quick ball and moved the ball left exactly as we had done previously, this time their outside centre shot out of the line for the interception so Asa gave a lovely ” show and go” right through the gap, drawing their full back and again putting Timmy over for another score wider out. Cracking conversion from Ed. 14-0 up with less than 10 mins on the clock.
Unfortunately George took a bang to his neck…Harry enters the fray at hooker.
From the restart we bashed the ball up the middle and were awarded another scrum centrefield which gave us a chance to execute a move we had discussed during the warm-up which worked a treat. We stacked both centres left in order to draw their defenders and create a big blind side on our right hand side. From the scrum James fed Harv who drew the defender, popped to Ed who hit the line at pace and timed a sweet pass to put David into space but with a couple of defenders closing fast……no problem as David jinked past them to beat the cover defence to dot down for our third try….this was a really classy try guys and a great finish David !! No conversion but a 19-0 lead and the home supporters were in good spirits.
At this point we were flying but things don’t always go the way they are planned and we started to let Ruislip back in the game. We kept coughing up possession either by not looking after the ball or giving away soft penalties. Ruislip on the front foot from their own scrum and a clever kick in behind our defence meant Ed had to scramble back on his own ( WHERE WAS EVERYONE ELSE ???!!!) to touch the ball down in goal for a defensive scrum 5 metres. From the scrum their No.8 ( good player) picked up and drove over to score….conversion missed 19-5.
From the restart we are again under pressure and their forwards are now starting to get into the game, carrying well, going to ground and winning the rucks. Good defense slows them down a bit but unfortunately Harv got a bang on the head and had to leave the pitch ( rest up Harvey…3 weeks off !!) Ed moves to 10 and Eddie at full back. Still Ruislip keep coming. We committed quite a few players to try and slow them down but they win the ball, move it left and we fall off a couple of tackles to allow their winger to score under the posts. They convert 19-12.
Half time and we emptied the bench to give us some fresh legs. From the restart we needed to get a bit of control on the game but we just couldn’t get hold of the ball.  Ruislip put us under pressure in our 22 as we failed to clear our lines when we had the opportunity to kick to touch ( BACKS…we will work on our kicking options in different situations over the next few weeks). However Ruislip knocked on and we had a scrum just outside our own 22. Good hook from Harry, ball at Bam’s feet and JD just about to whip the ball away when their scrum-half flattens JD, picks up the ball and Ruislip go on to score out wide….conversion missed 19-17. We are now firmly under the cosh and Bam has to leave the pitch after getting his brace stuck in his gum…ouch !!
From the restart we managed to get the ball and put a few phases together. One of our planned moves (DSP) saw Gabriel hitting the ball flat out on the gainline, skittling their defence and firmly getting us in behind them, quick ruck this time and good hands, again moving the ball into space on the left, saw their right winger’s worst nightmare again….TIMMY IN SPACE !!…in the blink of an eye he was around the outside to score out wide….no conversion but 24-17 and a bit of daylight.
Well that lasted all of what seemed like 200 milliseconds before one of those crazy situations where they scored a try out of nothing. Ruislip had the ball but we were knocking them over and they weren’t really threatening us. Their 10 put in what i thought was an innocuous kick deep into our 22 and we had quite a few defenders covering, even as Ruislip gave a good chase…..A bit of indecision on our part and a couple of dodgy bounces saw 2 of our players  in a heap and Ruislip dotting down to score the softest of tries. Fortunately the conv was missed but from what seemed like a lofty perch at 19-0 we were now staring down the barrel at 24-22 and all the momentum in Ruislip’s favour.
The home touchline was getting a bit jittery and the coaching staff were praying for the whistle! A hopeful shout  of “how long Ref?” was met with ” 7 minutes” which seemed like an inordinate length of time at that stage.
This was now a very even contest and our forwards really started to knuckle down at the breakdowns in the last quarter of the game. We were still under pressure on our own 22 but managed to force a turnover, JD to Ed and a cracking kick over the top saw a great chase from Gabriel who outpaced their midfield to the ball and bounced off a couple of tackles before popping to Timmy who ran a great supporting line on his shoulder. We are now over half way, Timmy stays strong on his feet and then offloads back to Gabriel who breaks the last line of defence and turns on the after-burners to dot down under the sticks. Ed Converts 31-22 and we can breath a bit easier. That try was all about a great chase and not just one but 2 players  working really hard off the ball to support the ball carrier….fantastic guys…really good !!
Two minutes to go and Ruislip have the ball back in their hands again and are putting together another attack….they work the ball towards our left wing and into the hands of their big 2nd row when out of nowhere Timmy bravely hurls himself into the tackle and stops all their momentum. Unfortunately Timmy injures himself and his opponent, and they both have to leave the field. We see out the clock and the ref blows for the end of the game much to the relief of the home side.
Observations
——————
– I thought our scrum went pretty well again this weekend and gave us a good platform to attack when we had the ball…well done you lads up front.
– Giving away soft penalties for offside and holding on to the ball kills all our momentum and makes it easy for the opposition….we need to be disciplined and make it hard for teams to gain yards against us !!
 – When we had the ball in hand we looked really dangerous, especially in the first half.
– One of the things about playing in higher leagues is testing ourselves against better players and we really had to dig deep  either side of half-time as we were on the back foot and struggling to get hold off the ball.  We had 4 injuries in the last 30 mins of the game and had to make some positional changes on the hoof so it’s great to see that we have a group of players who can adapt to different situations and work out what is required to win when things get tough.
Overall it was a good win against a really dogged side who showed great character to come back from 19-0 down when OAs were playing all the rugby at the start of the game. The match was played in a great spirit by both sides. We wish Ruislip well for the rest of the season and hope to arrange a friendly fixture against them in 2015.
Nick and Steve

 

OAs A vs Southend Nov.9th

The visit of the much lauded Southend heralded the first Super- ten group match of the OA`s U14 season. The opening minutes were evenly matched, both teams sparring warily at arms length. It was Southend who drew first blood, breaking the deadlock, slipping through the defensive net with a score wide out on the left wing. As in many previous matches, OA reserve their best for when in deficit on the score sheet, this particular match was to prove no different. Countless phases mercilessly stretched the visitors from left to right, with scintillating pace and pinpoint passing proving too much to bear as eventually Lear went over for what was a magnificent team try. Another ten minutes of the same saw the rampant hosts pinning the Seasiders in their own half, alas there was no way through this time, Southend biding their time scoring down the left again with a counter attack completely against the run of play. The home team found themselves 5:12 down at the break, having shaded the first half.
The second half signalled a resurgent Southend, upping the intensity, both teams now going at full throttle, some great battles developing in the midfield. The away team were now dictating terms, enjoying the lions share of the ball, only to repeatedly hit the granite of the OA`s defence, Gyamfi with some outstanding turnovers, the pick of the gallant forwards. Yet another Gyamfi snaffle ignited the dormant OA attack, marauding through the heart of Southend with Kane crossing the whitewash. Patricks subsequent conversion levelled this epic encounter at twelve a piece. OA`s now had some momentum as the tide seemed to be turning their way, they found themselves with the put in on Southend`s twenty two metre line. The throw in was however adjudged not straight, relinquishing possession, Southend making OA`s pay by yet again countering, hugging the by-line to go five ahead. More OA possession saw the ball marched up field, as the clock ticked down Southend were creaking under some massive pressure, desperately managing to hold the ball up over their try line twice.After having bravely earned the third- five metre scrum in a row, the hosts were looking  a good bet
for the win, only to have the opportunity denied them by the inconvenient calling of time.
COACHES NOTE:
A magnificent performance from all considering the stature of the opposition, the Super 10 will certainly see us challenged more and is the level of competition that we now need to be getting on a more regular basis. The coaches of Southend were very magnanimous and complimentary and praised our work at the breakdown which was indeed high praise as the last time we met that completely dominated that phase of the game.

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.

 

Final score 12:17.

 

A team v Teddington Oct. 2014

 

The first league match of the 2014-15 season saw the Div 1 champions visit Teddington at Bushy Park. Heavily depleted numbers meant only two subs were available for this clash, questions were sure to be asked by the very physical home team. It was five minutes into the match before the first move of any note, Hocking and Lofts combining on the left, orchestrating the release of Driscoll, the full back narrowly missing out in the right hand corner. OA`s first on the score sheet as brilliant anticipation by Gyamfi from the resulting lineout saw the forward go over un-challenged.
The home team were however, soon back on level terms as an OA knock on five metres out saw them score from the resulting scrum. Seemingly  the only way the home team were going to get a foot hold was if OA`s gifted them possession, unfortunately that seemed to be the theme as wayward passes and fumbles spread throughout the team. A glimpse of daylight however appeared from the often error strewn first half, Lear providing a killer flick pass out right, buying Driscoll the extra half yard he needed to dissect the defence, bravely going over in the corner under extreme pressure, the highly attentive linesman confirming the legality. The tempo now rising by the minute as both teams upped the physicality, Patrick bravely wearing a brutal late tackle, Wheeler repaying the hosts number eight with interest, the match now being played right on the edge as things appeared to reach near boiling point. As half time loomed the hosts replied again going through the phases to regain parity at 10:10. An opportunity for a few heads to cool a little came with the arrival of the half time whistle.
A lapse of concentration from the restart saw the West Londoners gifted the ball three metres out, they took the lead at 15:10. With many regulars missing and players out of position all through the OA team, this was shaping up as a huge test of character for the lads as they went behind for the first time. A change of tactic by the stand in left wing Hocking was to prove pivotal, after digesting a subtle suggestion from the side-line, he explored the left wing option and after wading through four defenders flew down the flank to level terms, Patrick obliged with the first extras of the tie. 15:17. The Hocking score seemed to reinvigorate the spirits, the nervy passing and handling faded as the visitors at long last gained some momentum. The pack were now blowing Teddington away at the scrum, the ball going through the backs with much more purpose leading to the try of the match…
The move was initiated by a searing run from Trehy, breaking through committing the defence then releasing a pin point pass to Williamson who looped and scored via a superb run and pass from Hocking. Trehy with the drop kick conversion made it 15:24. Teddington weren’t beaten yet and OA tackling had to be at its very best with Carter and Lear amongst many others putting in some monster hits to keep them at bay. This rear guard finally paid off and OA`s were soon out of site thanks to a Gyamfi charge down leaving Lear to do the honours. A last minute consolation saw the final score read 20:29.
B TEAM VS BANK OF ENGLAND

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

Dear all, apologies it has taken me so long to send out the report but I have been away for most of the week – a poor excuse but that’s how it is! Apologies if I missed anything although as it took me so long to write probably won’t be such a lengthy report in future.

 

 

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.

 

Thanks

Ian

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