Denny, Gregg and O'Mahoney sparkle as OAs enjoy home comfort
OAs fought off a dangerous recovery by their opponents to register another precious win and round off a largely successful home campaign at Woollams. Civil Service came to Woollams with still a mathematical chance of avoiding the big drop
Old Albanians 26 Civil Service 14
OAs fought off a dangerous recovery by their opponents to register another precious win and round off a largely successful home campaign at Woollams.
Civil Service came to Woollams with still a mathematical chance of avoiding the big drop provided they racked up big wins in this and their final league match next weekend. As expected they paraded a clutch of southern hemisphere players whose signings have transformed their fortunes in the second half of the season.
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Fortunately for OAs, who have struggled up front in recent weeks, captain Gregg Botterman was back to lead the pack after injury and his influence at set pieces and at the line out was evident from the first time the respective sets of forwards clashed.
OAs got off to a dream start, courtesy of the Darragh O' Mahoney, Richard Gregg double act which clicked with devastating regularity in the fifth, 10th and 15th minute.
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Gregg, razor sharp from the off, and applying the more direct options in his attacking repertoire, twice broke the line and turned the defence with astute kicks behind his markers.
OAs move was so well constructed that O'Mahoney executed his first try with a big overlap at his disposal. Five minutes later the ex-Saracens and Ireland star weaved his way through a bewildered Service defence and then completed a rapid hat trick under the posts from a move started by Gregg. The outside half added to his big tally of points this season with all three successful conversions.
The Woollams' Men opening salvo had been rewarded with a 21 points lead but the visitors from Chiswick, fresh from last weekends triumph in the final of the Middlesex Cup were far from finished. Their full back Tom Sincock led the counter charge, having caught an attempted clearance in his own half and running in a try from 65 yards out.
OAs began the second half a man down after Mike Rout was yellow carded and as frustration set in both sides lost their composure. Andy Pearson, Phil Friel and the improving Jeremy Edwards all entered the action in an atmosphere best described as tense.
The visitors won a string of penalties and finally undid the OA defence with a slick reverse pass which saw them under the posts and within a converted try of parity.
The match had turned into a turgid midfield struggle but the gloom was lifted when OAs sealed the contest with seconds remaining. Winger Francis Denny dived over in the corner from a move started by O'Mahoney and Gregg, the architects of a deserved victory.
OAs travel to Richmond on Saturday, April 19 for their final game in a season which has brought mixed fortunes. Richmond have planned a big celebration to mark their promotion into the National Leagues after four seasons in the highly competitive London One.
On a note of sporting history, Civil Service and Richmond are amongst only eight of the clubs remaining today who met in January 1871 at the Pall Mall Restaurant to form the Rugby Football Union.
OAs: Darragh O'Mahoney, Francis Denny, Justin Azzopardi, Tryfan Edwards, Mark Mansfield, Richard Gregg, Mark Evans, Adam Gelman, Gregg Botterman, Simon Williams, Roly Burr, Alex Bennett , Mike Rout, David Fergusson, Paul Mansfield. Subs used: Andy Pearson, Jeremy Edwards, Phil Friel.