GALLERY: Fast start keeps OAs’ top four hopes alive
OAs run in eight tries at sun soaked Woollams
National Two South
Old Albanians 54 Westcombe Park 19
OLD Albanians ran in eight tries on their way to their 16th victory of the season against Westcombe Park.
On the weekend the County Championship began it looked like OAs would rack up a cricket score of their own notching four tries in the opening 22 minutes but the visitors from Kent rallied and gave the Woollams Men a tough afternoon from then on.
The game was just three minutes old when OAs opened the scoring with a try from last season’s top marksman Terry Adams and prop Marco Cecere joined in minutes later collecting an offload from Laurence White to roll over the line. Full-back Richard Gregg made no mistake with either conversion to give OAs an early 14-0 lead.
Both the opening tries came after OAs had come out on top at the lineout and tries three and four were no different.
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First OAs secured the ball at the lineout and let the forwards rumble towards the Westcombe line. The visitors kept out several OAs’ drives but scrum-half Stefan Liebenberg spotted a chink in the visitors’ armour and managed to burrow his way over.
Then Sweden international Andy Daish rose highest to claim the ball and with the forwards enjoying the upper hand they powered towards the line allowing Jamie Bache to dot the ball down.
With just 22 minutes gone and the bonus point in the bag you could have forgiven the visitors if they decided to throw the towel in. That wasn’t the case though and they dragged OAs into a dogged fight for possession. OAs had used their strong powerful runners to open up their lead but with the home side unable to provide good clean ball their threat was nullified.
Liebenberg was caught napping at a scrum giving his opposite number James Stevenson the space to steal the ball and race clear. OAs recovered to thwart Westcombe’s advance but the visitors recycled the ball and centre Niki Davies touched down under the posts giving Luke Giles an easy conversion.
The scoreboard operators were kept busy as OAs burst back into life. Leading try scorer Chris May started the move with a burst through the Park defence and after the ball was passed through several sets of hands Tesh Edwards was able to dive over in the corner. Gregg successfully added the extras and was nearly calling for the tee again just minutes later as May powered towards the corner but the big winger was put into touch just as he was placing the ball in the corner.
OAs were dealt a blow early in the second half when Bache was forced off with a head injury and Westcombe took advantage of this with a sustained period of pressure.
Centre John Coleman looked to have got in for another try after dancing his way through the OAs’s defence but Gregg got back and held him up. Daish and replacement James Ellershaw were both given a 10 minute breather after getting on the wrong side of the referee and with OAs down to 13 Westcombe started to find holes in the home defence. No.8 Gavin Wallis charged down an OAs’ clearance and touched down only to see it chalked off for offside but Kieren Leeper’s superb piece of brilliance did result in a try for the visitors. Leeper picked the ball up on the OAs’ 22 before chipping the ball over the defence and gathering to touch down underneath the posts.
With Westcombe threatening to earn themselves a losing bonus point OAs rang the changes and it was one of those replacements, Simon Lincoln, who took advantage of a fumble in the visitors’ 22 to gather and touch down.
OAs weren’t finished there though and from a scrum deep in Westcombe territory the ball was flung wide to May who stretched out an arm to reach over the line and score.
Gregg again nailed a difficult conversion.
The end-to-end nature of the second half continued to the end and Leeper got his second try of the contest cutting a beautiful line through the home defence to score.
It was OAs who had the last say though and they passed the fifty-point mark with a try from inside centre Chris Lombaard. Daish picked up the ball at the base of the scrum and popped the ball out to Lombaard who wriggled his way over the line. Gregg was unable to maintain his perfect record though missing his only kick of the afternoon but in the grander scheme of things it mattered little as victory keeps OAs’ hopes of a top four finish well and truly alive.
OAs: Gregg, May, Adams, Lombaard, Edwards, Shanahan, Liebenberg; Cecere, Cope, Laws, Comb �, Cooper-Millar, Bache, White, Daish.
Reps: James, Ellershaw, Alford, Lincoln, Farenheim.