The OA Saints made the journey up to the Midlands on Sunday for their first fixture of 2015 looking to continue their excellent run so far this season.
Old Leamintonians had travelled to Woollams at the start of the season at the start of September in very different conditions to the freezing conditions that occurred for this fixture. The scoreline for the first game had resulted in a 96-0 win for the Saints but this was to be a different game altogether, with both teams only able to field 13 players each.
The game started off with both teams trying to adjust to the weather conditions and the reduced number of players on each team. The visitors almost had the first score of the game when their full back received the kick and went on the counter attack, breaking through the first tackle and found space on the outside. Saints fly half Nicky Cameron came across as the last line of defence to tackle her safely into touch. The first points came from OAs wing Louise Blunt who supported centre Sophie Tyler after she made a break through the midfield. Tyler was stopped by the full back and offloaded to Blunt who outpaced the defence to score. Conversion missed by stand in kicker, full back Robyn King to leave the score 0-5 to the Saints.
Saints full back King was next on the score sheet after supporting a great break from centre Allie Nelkon. Quick ball from Saints debutant scrum half Katie Stapleton fed Nelkon who stepped and found space in behind the Old Leamingtonian backline. Using good footwork to fix the full back, Nelkon passed to King who sprinted over to score. Conversion missed by King to make the score 0-10 to the visitors.
From the kick off, Old Leamingtonians started to use the wind in their favour to pin OA’s back in their own half. Both teams showed excellent defence to force mistakes in the cold weather, with a number of unforced errors meaning the game was very stop start for the next 10 minutes. With OAs unable to clear their lines and the weather taking it’s toll, Old Leamingtonians got their first points of the game. After a great break from OAs full back King, the ball was passed out of contact and stolen by the home team to feed their full back who went over in the corner. Conversion missed to leave the score 5-10.
Saints had more of the possession in the first half, but they were unable to turn this into points with inconsistent handling skills because of the freezing weather conditions. The last score of the half came from Saints fly half Nicky Cameron. After a period of time spent in the Old Leamingtonian 22m, prop Hannah Tan showed good strength to give the Saints quick ball, Stapleton fed Cameron who switched the play to the blind side to break through and score unopposed under the posts. Conversion scored by King with the half time score 5-17 to the visitors.
Saints seemed to come to life in the second half, with a number of tries in the first 15 minutes. Firstly, with a second from centre Sophie Tyler who passed and looped full back King to break through the defence and score under the posts. Conversion scored by fly half Cameron to make the score 5-24.
Saints second row Kat Josephides was next on the scoresheet. After the ball was stolen by the Saints at the breakdown by second row Kate Barnes, prop Chloe Humphreys used her strength to break through the defence. Humphreys was hauled down just short of the 22m and scrum half Alice Finn passed to Josephides who showed excellent pace to score over the line. Conversion missed to make the score 5-29.
Saints debutant Deb Carpenter was next on the scoresheet with a fine solo effort. From a stolen lineout by Saints number 8 Holly Watson, fly half Cameron fed Carpenter who changed the angle and got in behind the home defence. Showing excellent footwork (especially for a front row forward) she sidestepped the so far, faultless Old Leamingtonian full back and outpaced her to score under the posts. Conversion missed to leave the score 5-34.
Carpenter was unlucky not to get her second not long after when she was held up over the line by strong cover defence by Old Leamingtonians. Instead, the referee deemed the previous play to have been illegal and when a try would have been certainly scored, so a penalty try was awarded to the Saints. Conversion scored to make the score 5-41.
Sophie Tyler completed the scoring, making it 5-46 at full-time.
Back of the Match for OAs was full back Robyn King for some excellent tackling and lines of running.
Forward of the Match was Saints debutant Deb Carpenter for all round hard work and excellent running skills.
Both teams played well and with good spirit in freezing conditions. The OA Saints would like to thank Old Leamingtonians for hosting them so soon after the New Year and wish them all the best for the rest of the season.
The OA Saints have their next fixture at home on Sunday 11th January vs Hampstead. KO 2pm at Woollams – all support welcome.