National League 2 South
A cynic might echo Abraham Lincoln and say Albanians again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and there would be some truth in that! But the last ten minutes of this nervous contest, in which the hosts scored two deserved tries to gain a one point victory, did not contain the root of the OA troubles. All had gone pear-shaped long before that.
The point has been laboured for years that at this level of rugby, and indeed at any level nowadays, precision is a requirement, nay it is a given! If mistakes are made, be they tactical or operational, advantages are handed to the opponent. Dings endured the OA purple patch immediately after half time when the visitors scored three scintillating tries, one converted, which dragged this match out of its torpor. Leading 8-17 with half an hour still to play and the large crowd largely silenced, OAs returned to careless ways. As in the Tonbridge Juddian encounter, a last gasp lineout to take the spoils failed to deliver.
A serious Motorway accident had delayed A’s arrival by two hours and the kickoff by one. Three minutes in Dan Watt attempted his first penalty from fully 65 metres. The strength of the wind meant his kick only just missed. Five minutes later Ben Bolster coaxed his penalty over for the opening points.
Then Alex Brown was red-carded for illegal use of the boot after his side had been awarded a penalty advantage. A man down for over an hour it was thereafter always going to be hard going.
Still Albanians had the better of the possession but couldn’t find the gap. Another long range Watt penalty fell just under the bar before the second and equally major event of this first period. Watt lined up his third penalty attempt 20 metres out and in front of the posts. To his dismay the ball came back off the upright and was shunted left by the Dings defence, which then rapidly became attack. Jake Holcombe had the legs to dive over just before the break.
What was possible was displayed in the third quarter when A’s finally found their true form. The forwards drove fast and deep and sped the ball to Ned Warne far out on the left. Watt’s conversion narrowly missed but Lloyd Anderson took charge from the restart. He released Charly Watson who crossed unchallenged from fifty metres.
Visiting forwards rampaged upfield whilst a Dings lock took a ten minute enforced rest and Chris West charged over from the second of two five metre scrums, Morgan Thompson converting and with a nine point lead and their tails up, very few in the crowd gambled on a home win. Holcombe backed himself and had no problem crossing from a lineout drive.
Then Hooker Will Capon threw the lineout ball low to the front (the third time he’d tried the ploy!) and Tom Knight proved unstoppable. As previously mentioned, OAs could find no way back.
It had been a long, difficult day and there were extenuating circumstances. Also it was not all doom and gloom: the pack did well in the tight and, generally, around the park. The first fifteen minutes of the second half showed the heights to which Gavin Hogg’s side can aspire. But all has to be attended with consistency or brilliance will count for naught.
Team – Hughes, Townsend, Chamnaoui, Hamilton, Bond, Mundy, Brown, Scopes, Gliksten, Thompson, Warne, Watt, Holdsworth, Anderson, Watson
Subs – Bond, Morgan, Illston, West, Ricci
Tries – Watson, Warne, West
Conversions – Thompson
Press & Publicity
National League 2 South