Former Saracens star Gustard inspires OAs
London One Old Albanians 42 Haywards Heath 23 NEW signing Paul Gustard inspired Old Albanians to victory at home against Sussex champions Haywards Heath on Saturday. The capture of Gustard, who retired from Guinness Premiership rugby last season,
Old Albanians 42 Haywards Heath 23
NEW signing Paul Gustard inspired Old Albanians to victory at home against Sussex champions Haywards Heath on Saturday.
The capture of Gustard, who retired from Guinness Premiership rugby last season, proved a major boost for OAs and he impressed with a consummate debut at openside. His vision and ruthless efficiency around the set piece and breakdown set up a valuable supply of possession and inspired his team mates including back row partners, the experienced Henry Whitford and young prospect Matt Alford.
OA skipper Gregg Botterman ably led a front five where Queenslanders, James Kriukelis and Nathan Byrne were reunited, in OA colours.
It was the OA backs who stole the show. Ed Panting and Mark Mansfield attacked with speed on the wings and England Students and Loughborough full back Tom Chesters linked superbly throughout. Chesters scored the first of a hat trick of tries on 20 minutes from a Panting sprint down the right.
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Heath had earlier opened the scoring but OAs took charge when Chesters scored and within five minutes Terry Adams extended the lead after Whitford had won turn over ball and Richard Gregg fed the eager centre with the decisive offload.
OAs continued to impress and Mansfield charged down a clearance on half way and outpaced the Heath players in pursuit for the next score. Gregg's conversion, and a subsequent penalty when the visitors transgressed under pressure at a ruck, ensured that the interval score was 25-7 to OAs.
After the break, Heath took charge but only managed a penalty to reduce the arrears.
OAs then sparked into life with sustained attacking to the delight of Match Sponsor Mr Ian Jennings. Half backs Oliver Peck and Richard Gregg were maintaining a supply of high quality distribution along the line at a quick tempo. Chesters was then on the spot to finish fluent moves in the 51st and 60th minutes. Mansfield also crossed after a sublime interchange with Panting and Adams but was judged to have shaved the touch line in his run in.
Lapses in concentration in the home ranks allowed Heath to notch their second and third tries on 65 and 75 minutes, courtesy of full back Joe Hoare and Gareth Fergusson.
In between, however, Gregg had skipped his way through a fragmented defence to set up Adams for a deserved second try and crown a very promising team display.
OAs travel to Portsmouth on Saturday and their hosts, despite a mixed start to the season, will be encouraged by big wins in their previous home encounters with the men from Woollams.
OAs: T. Chesters, E. Panting, T. Adams, T. Edwards, M. Mansfield, R. Gregg, O. Peck, A. Gelman, G. Botterman, N. Byrne, A. Mate, J. Kriukelis, P. Gustard, M. Alford, H. Whitford. Subs used: A. Clarke, J. Edwards, M. Evans.