Vees sink OAs
PUBLISHED: 09:59 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010
EDF Energy Intermediate Cup Fourth Round Clifton 32 Old Albanians 17 OAs quest for Cup glory came to a bitter end in North Bristol at the hands of an accomplished Clifton side whose position at the top of South West One reflects eleven straight league w
EDF Energy Intermediate Cup Fourth Round
Clifton 32 Old Albanians 17
OAs' quest for Cup glory came to a bitter end in North Bristol at the hands of an accomplished Clifton side whose position at the top of South West One reflects eleven straight league wins.
After an extended Christmas break for both sides, OAs were quicker into their stride and when Richard Gregg charged down a clearance kick after five minutes of play, touched down and then converted, the West Country side knew that their unbeaten run was in for a thorough examination.
OAs competed well throughout but for the 10-minute period immediately after the break when they conceded three tries through a mixture of poor defending and frustration which had been building across the team as a result of some very inconsistent decisions made by the referee. Clifton got back on terms with 11 minutes on the clock with a penalty try, which Andrew Bell converted and he then set up his side's next score with a clever kick over OAs' defence, finished off by David Butler.
Spirited work by OAs' pack, where Alex Bennett made a succession of powerful surges, was rewarded with a penalty, snapped up by Gregg in front of the posts. In their best spell of the game, the Woollams men impressively turned a scrum and effectively defended counterattacks in which David Rees, with 11 full England caps to his credit, was prominent, albeit in his less accustomed position at outside centre.
Nathan Byrne, OAs' popular prop, received a painful rib injury, allowing Peter Nelson to make his first-team debut and Clifton were happy to end a competitive, and at times, abrasive half with a successful penalty kick which went over after striking an upright.
The home side wasted no time in pressing home their advantage when replacement prop Chris Rowland and then lock Darren Barry both finished from close range after their fellow forwards had laid siege to OAs' line from the restart. Clifton kept up the pressure in this period when a string of marginal decisions all went in their favour and Tom Chesters received a yellow card for voicing the frustration of his team mates and the clutch of travelling supporters who had made the trip along the M4.
Shortly afterwards, Rees showed his finishing prowess by diving over in the corner and received the benefit of the doubt as his foot appeared to have clipped the touchline in the process. Though Bell failed again to convert, Clifton had opened up a 22-point gap and the home crowd was sensing the possibility of a big win. There was certainly no danger of their side being allowed to rest on its laurels, coach Mark Reagan saw to that. Following each passage of play from the touch line, 'Ronnie' barked a continuous stream of orders at his men in the same aggressive fashion that he himself had applied to such good effect in the days of leading England's pack.
Terry Adams responded on OAs' behalf with a crunching tackle on an opponent in full flight as his side signalled its intention to battle on. Mark Evans, having switched to scrum half following an injury to Oliver Peck launched a kick deep into home territory which was pursued eagerly by his backs.
Mark Langley brought on Gregg Botterman, Ed Orchard and Harry Knighton as OAs mounted their rearguard action, forcing three consecutive penalties and, clearly feeling the need for fresh legs, Clifton also called upon replacements.
Clifton worked hard to repel OAs' efforts but had no answer to a late charge by the visitors' pack which was finished by Aussie James Kriukelis.
On balance a deserved win for the Bristol side but, generally, a performance of character and determination by the Woollams men who return to home league action on Saturday, January 24, against Sutton & Epsom, kick off 3pm, Woollams.
OAs: Tom Chesters, Dene Miller, Terry Adams, Tryfan Edwards, Mark Evans, Richard Gregg, Oliver Peck, Andy Pearson, Matt Hart, Nathan Byrne, Arthur Mate, James Kriukelis, Alex Bennett , Paul Gustard , Simon Lye. Subs (all used): Peter Nelson, Gregg Botterman, Harry Knighton, Ed Orchard.