National League 2 South
A match away at Clifton (a suburb of Bristol) must seem like a land of milk and honey to the visitors – non-stop sunshine, cider trees, unleaded at £1.19 and an opposition who have never beaten the club in the National Leagues – how sixth-placed OAs must have fancied a big haul from twelfth-placed Clifton.
Yes, it all seemed to go to plan, not just a four try bonus point for the visitors but an extra try to boot. However, they reckoned without the home side’s ability to twist the tail. They too scored four tries with their attendant bonus, but in doing so managed to creep within the margin of seven points difference to earn a further bonus point; the upshot being that OAs won the match 24-31, Clifton won the bonus point contest 2-1 and neither side changed their status in the table by a single position!
It is difficult to fathom the justification for a 7pt margin bonus point. At best it is a consolation prize and at worst it is a recognition for average or even downright negative play and ought to be replaced with a bonus point for an away win. Simple as that.
Not that Clifton were in any way negative, their industrious start pinning OAs on their line for close on a quarter of an hour was reminiscent of last week’s assault by Redruth; Clifton went one better and capped this pressure with a try by centre Chris Levesley on sixteen minutes, converted by No 10, Brad Barnes. This time OAs replied with a reply from hard-working openside, Tobias Munday, just five minutes later. This half Dan Watt was in no mood to slot conversions and failed to oblige again on the edge of half time when Alex Ricci shot over the line to make the half time score 7-10.
Undeterred, Levesley and Barnes’ boot answered back for Clifton on the resumption, 14-10, and the play and watchability improved every moment as an end-to-end contest, replete with errors and some tough calls in the loose ensued. OAs’ dominance was rewarded by regaining the lead through two tries in five minutes through replacements Ash Illston and Aaron Martinez bringing the side’s sole bonus point topped off with two monumental Watt conversions.
During this resurgence, wing Lloyd Anderson had been making ground with solid carries which went down blind alleys until the thirty-second minute when he at last broke free to score Albanians’ fifth try with Watt’s kick taking the score up to 31 points. For the home side the last five minutes were spent like the first fifteen on OAs’ line until David Hill broke the visitors’ resistance with a warmly applauded try and two bonus points to show.
Team – Morgan, Townsend, Hughes, Hamilton (c), Napier, Scopes, Mundy, West, Thompson, Wicks, Warne, Watt, Holdsworth, Anderson, Ricci
Subs – Martinez, Chamnaoui, Illston, Watson, Deane
Tries – Mundy, Ricci, Illston, Martinez, Anderson
Conversions – Watt x3
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National League 2 South