Gallery: Second-half blitz lifts OA above Blackheath
- Credit: Archant
Old Albanian shook off the nearlies and what-might-have-beens of the first half of the season and produced a performance that went straight for the jugular, was uninhibited and which announced that Andy Holloway’s tenure as head coach is here to enthral and delight the Woolams faithful.
After a fitful first half in which both teams scored two tries there was nothing to choose between the sides at 17-16 in OA’s favour. Nathan Earle took a pass from No 15, Charlie Kingsman, and ran thirty metres for his first try. Not to be outdone, Heath’s flanker Dave Allen squeezed over in a corner but this went unconverted. A quick response saw Chris Lombaard and Charlie Hughes set up a run-in for Jimmy Spiers.
Maro Itoje managed to get himself yellow carded for a technical offence, but his surging runs won him a bottle of champagne from Billy’s Bar proprietor, Harry Knighton, as man of the match.
His timeout had little effect on the score until the 34th minute, when Blackheath centre Markus Burcham ran in his side’s second try. In the kicking department, Heath’s Mike Carty slotted two penalties, while Lawrence Rayner converted both of OAs’ tries and bagged a penalty to establish the marginal half-time lead; he was to finish the match with a personal haul of eighteen points from the boot.
“I had a word or two about our defensive organisation at half time”, said Holloway modestly but nobody at Woollams was prepared for the explosion that happened in the second half.
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That man Earle started it right from the kick-off as a turnover gave space for Spiers to make yardage upfield and deliver a perfect pass to Earle whose muscular run-in outstripped the defence.
Seven minutes later a Blackheath line out just past halfway went straight to Andrew Daish alone, unmarked and heading for the try line in seconds. A Rayner penalty four minutes later meant that OAs had added fifteen unanswered points in eleven minutes.
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As Blackheath tried to get back into the game, the OA forwards stifled all their good intent. Marshalled by Stef Liebenberg, the lineouts were picked off by skipper Billy Johnson, Ollie Cooper-Millar and Daish, the set piece in the few scrums was solid and the graft of Lawrence White and Brett McNamee meant that the Club’s ambitions were nullified and little of the half was played in OA territory.
Blackheath’s No 10, Phil Ellis, saw yellow on 70 minutes to be joined six minutes later by No 6, Jesse Linton, during an OA invasion of the visitors’ line and, opting for scrums, a penalty try on 78 minutes became inevitable before the dam burst. Bomber Lombaard loped over for a well-deserved try to be followed two minutes later by sub Mike Allen to round off a gain of 36 points without reply in the second half.
All of which has consigned Blackheath to the relegation zone and, being a ‘relegation 10 pointer’ has improved OAs’ position to 10th. A visit to the south coast next Saturday sees OAs take on the only side they have not yet played, eleventh-placed Worthing, who travelled the length of the country yesterday to be blitzed by improving Blaydon 45-14. Kick-off at 2pm.