Westcliff will probably say they have underperformed many times this season and this may account for their lowly league status. This result shows it pays to work patiently with the resources you have because the visitors were worthy winners on a miserable afternoon at Woollams.
And patience summed up the Essex men’s approach since they were fourteen points adrift before most spectators had drawn breath. Firm OA pressure had extracted a penalty try within three minutes with its accompanying yellow card for the iconically named loose head prop Charlie Brown. Five minutes later Tom Stileman tore over on the left for Greg Lound’s flapper conversion to scud just over the crossbar.
All this without a mention of the semi gale which Westcliff were facing. This would, on other days, have taken the heart out of most visiting assumptions, especially when the previous match by the coast had been so one-sided. They’re made of sterner stuff in the Southend area.
Half an hour passed with OAs still in the ascendancy but, importantly, without additional scores and, taking heart from this and the bonus of Albanian mistakes, Westcliff made ground. Finally within range of the OA line a simple, powerful take and drive breached the home line, Oliver Walker the scorer.
Thus encouraged, and with the benefit of a ten minute interval behind them, and with the breeze now at their backs, the visitors drove again. This time No8 George Maloney acknowledged the applause and Greg Bannister had no trouble with the conversion.
Somewhere in the Westcliff pack there was the modern equivalent of Wellington who worked out that their opposition, Albanian rather than French, were ‘coming on in the same old way’ and could be repulsed in like manner. This was a task diligently adhered to across the field and OAs could find no way through.
Two Bannister penalties, the second being the last kick of the match, took the honours.