Gallery: Determined OAs maintain home record
London One Old Albanians 25 Jersey 20 OLD Albanians preserved their perfect home record with a thrilling win, fashioned by some splendid finishing and secured with a steely determination on Saturday. Following the match team manager Steve Wyre
Old Albanians 25 Jersey 20
OLD Albanians preserved their perfect home record with a thrilling win, fashioned by some splendid finishing and secured with a steely determination on Saturday.
Following the match team manager Steve Wyre and the delighted home fans were united in praise of a gutsy performance.
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With both of their first choice centres already ruled out through injury, coaches Bruce Millar and Mark Langleys' problems gradually multiplied with a succession of knocks to key players during an abrasive encounter.
With four specialist props on duty in the final quarter, OAs came under enormous pressure but held out, inspired by a massive effort from the pack in which Alex Bennett and Paul Gustard were inspirational.
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The stylish Jersey outfit, built around a clutch of imported stars, showed enough to suggest they will be a force in London One and not just at the home on their Channel Island stronghold.
James Kriukelis opened the scoring for OAs with a stunning try after seven minutes. The young lock from Queensland demonstrated a brilliant piece of handling before diving over from Mark Mansfield's break.
Within minutes Jersey had levelled as OAs gave their opponents too much room following a line out and full back Michael Le Bourgois ran in unopposed.
Richard Gregg and Mitch Burton each made no mistake with their conversions and then, using the favourable wind, Gregg added two successful penalties though the deficit was quickly reduced to one point as the big Tongan captain, Talite Vaioletti, powered over just before the break.
Jersey took the lead early in the second half after winger Luke Le Suer capitalised on a fumbled catch. This signalled the onset of an all out assault on the home line, led by Jersey's explosive centre Sam Tuia. Ed Panting was forced to leave the pitch with a rib injury having been embroiled on defensive duties alongside with Chris May, each having done well in unfamiliar roles.
In the intensity of the game OAs had no time to dwell on yet another positional switch and, prompted by a tireless Tom Chesters, forced a penalty scrum deep into opposition territory. Oliver Peck switched play to the left where Mansfield made good ground before releasing Dene Miller to dive over in the corner, putting OAs 18-17 up.
With 20 minutes left OAs transgressed in a ruck and Le Bourgois stepped up to send the ball through the posts from over 40 metres and snatch the lead again with 20 minutes left on the clock.
The crowd of spectators, including match sponsor Mr Don Mills, were relishing the end to end rugby and when OAs hopes were flagging after a shoulder injury to their talismanic flanker, Gustard, the game was turned on its head with a piece of sheer brilliance from Richard Gregg. The OA star had just stopped Tuia in full cry when he pouched a high ball in front of his own posts. The mercurial fly half chipped over a ring of marauding forwards, collected the ball and, after drawing in more opponents, fed Mark Evans inside his own half. The versatile Evans switched on the afterburners and sprinted in near to the posts. Gregg converted to take his personal tally for the afternoon to 10 points and secure a hard fought victory which keeps his side just behind third placed Luton on points scored differential.
With a visit to a dramatically improving Sutton side in prospect for Saturday, all eyes will be on the progress of the long injury list which confronts OAs busy team of physios this week.
OAs: Tom Chesters, Dene Miller, Ed Panting, Chris May, Mark Mansfield, Richard Gregg, Oliver Peck, Adam Gelman, Gregg Botterman, Nathan Byrne, Arthur Mate, James Kriukelis, Paul Gustard, Jeremy Edwards, Alex Bennett. Subs used: Andy Clarke, Andy Pearson, Simon Lye, Mark Evans.
Note: All league games involving Jersey RFC allow both sides to field four substitutes (rather than the standard three) to reduce the possibility of uncontested scrums and any ensuing complications.
The OA Fireworks Party takes place on Saturday, November 1. Gates close at 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start. Discounted family tickets are available from the Clubhouse Bar at Woollams. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.