Saints bruised at Beckenham

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The OA Saints travelled to Beckenham on Sunday knowing that the home side would be looking to
avenge the heavy defeat dished out to them at Woollams and this game didn’t
disappoint.
In a game full of heavy collisions in all areas, OA’s set the tone as they have all season
by early pressure through line speed and physicality in defence forcing turnovers. One of
which was moved wide to Claire McKenna who used a combination of electric pace and
agile footwork to beat three cover defenders.
Without the conversion the OA’s had their lead of 5-0 closed immediately by the home
side who used their heavy pack to pressure a couple of back to back errors from the next
kick off. Finally after some indecision close to their own line OA’s conceded a try which
levelled the scores to 5-5.
On a large and slow pitch the match was played in tight, the home side choosing to
attack narrowly and test the resolve of the visiting defence. As has been the case all
season, OA’s stood firm and defended multiple phases of attack as the home team used
their superior possession to try and grind them down. With hard carrying and bruising hits
coming in from backs and forwards alike, the home crowd were uncompromising which
spurred the away side on to work even harder for each other.
Throughout the game OA’s did their best to vary the attack and from lineout situations
were able to gain some forward momentum and the platform to play. This wasn’t the case
off of the scrum where for large parts of the game, the home side’s tactics paid off and
with the referee behind them were able to strip back an area where OA’s have
dominated.
OA’s worked hard to gain field position after the break and possession of the ball but
were unable to come away with any points. The home side were able to play their
possession game and through a couple of clean breaks got the field position they needed
to pressure for tries. The first came after several phases of powerful defence, only for yet
another brave turnover by OA’s on their own try-line to be pounced on, the presentation
was just too loose and the referee awarded Beckenham with the score. The final try was
scored much later on after an immense effort of 7 minutes of defending inside their own
22, including a scrum and three penalties and 14 phases of play, the Saints finally
cracked as Beckenham found space on the blindside leaving the final score 15-5 to the
home side.
Forward of the match Mica Gooding personified the titanic effort up front with her
uncompromising physicality, with multiple shuddering hits and excellent work rate in all
areas. Back of the match Nicky Cameron, playing out of position, stepped up through her
cover defence, skilled positioning, as well as using her vast experience to help keep the
structure which shut Beckenham down for such long periods. The disappointment of
losing was far overshadowed by yet another sensational performance from this group
and OA’s are now keen to take this new level into their next game against Newbury on
Sunday 14th of February.