Daish dazzles as Combe come a cropper

OAs secure another bonus point victory

National League 2 South

Westcombe Park 12 Old Albanian 31

MAN of the Match Andy Daish lorded it over Westcombe Park showing all his skills and an almost spooky omnipresence in his first start for OAs since the away game at Hertford on October 15, scoring a hat trick of tries. He appeared last week at home against Redruth as a sub and still managed to score a try; in the interim he has been on international duty with Sweden in qualifying matches and skippering the Swedish Vikings sevens team in Singapore.

Combe opened and closed the try-scoring on a bright sunny afternoon which was more like mid-April than mid-November but succumbed in the middle of the match to a bonus point-accruing, five try burst by an OAs side who nevertheless displayed some worrying jitters.

Firstly the scrum was dominated almost entirely through the match by Combe’s big forwards and secondly, the normally dynamic half-back pairing of the newly-shorn Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier and James Shanahan suffered some glitches, most notably when the latter had to grasp so much thin air in taking a pass that he slipped in his own 22 metre area to the relish of the advancing back row.

If Ollie Cooper-Millar had not stolen at least three Combe lineout throws, possession might not have come easily to OAs, who seemed out of sorts and jittery after last week’s brilliant win against Redruth.

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Thank heavens, then, for Daish who shone in a match with few highlights and many, many lowlights, a game which the home side tried to win solely by the grunt of their forwards, and one which failed to satisfy or ignite the spectators from either side except in frustration. It is not often that one sees the home side’s crowd almost to a man decamp to watch their third team on an adjacent pitch the minute the half time whistle was blown. It was a match without passion or emotion.

So what was served up for the loyal OA fans who resisted the temptation to turn right as they drove round the M25 to go down the M40 to watch the apparently more mouth-watering game between Henley and Hartpury College? Bruzulier opened the scoring for OAs after they had fallen behind to an interception by Combe No 12, Nikki Davies, converted by fly-half, Luke Giles. Giles was an important factor in the development of the match as he was injured just before half time and, without a kicker, Combe felt obliged to opt for scrums in OAs’ half.

On 29 minutes, Daish scored his first in the right corner after Terry Adams had driven 30 metres into the Combe half and nearly a dozen phases passed before he dived over for Richard Gregg to improve as he did on two other occasions. Adams was not to be denied a mention on the score sheet as he dotted down under the posts after the referee, Paul Kimber, had been the wrong side of a ‘score’ by James Shanahan which he disallowed and instead awarded OAs a five metre scrum. So, with a 19-7 lead and three tries to the good, half time was a good place for OAs as they made the long trudge back to Combe’s clubhouse.

Much of the crowd’s restlessness stemmed from Mr Kimber who did not have a game to savour. Last week’s match had an evenly-spread total of 12 penalties. Mr Kimber delighted with 19, 10 of which went against OAs, the winning side, in the second half. Without a kicker, Combe opted for scrum after scrum after scrum.

Despite this disarray, Daish managed to finish off two more moves and end up with OAs’ bonus point. Just before full-time, Combe’s pack at last got the better of OAs with flanker, George Blomfield, touching down in the corner. Whilst OAs remained fifth in the league, Combe dropped to the bottom having been deducted five points earlier in the season for an administrative error.

This Saturday, OAs host Shelford, KO 3pm.

OAs: Gregg, Spiers, Adams, Lombaard, Marchon, Shanahan, Bruzulier, Hughes, Cope, Cecere, Bickle, Cooper-Millar, White �, Farenheim, Daish.

Reps: Bailey, Spackman, Botterman, May, Rayner.