Hallowe’en horror for OAs
National League Two South
Ealing 37 Old Albanians 10
HAVING been the victims of daylight robbery a fortnight ago at Lydney, then out-thought and out-played by Richmond, OAs underwent the full heebie-jeebies at Ealing.
The month of Walpurgisnacht, October, has brought misery to a depleted OAs side which ran almost through its substitutes bench by halftime in this macabre spectacle. Off went all three James’, Shanahan, Ellershaw and Brad.
For Ealing, who had first use of the slope of their far-from-level playing field, the game could easily have stopped there as they had a bonus point already for four tries and the game sewn up.
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This they achieved by the simple virtues of close passing, hard tackling, ball winning on the ground and teamwork.
OAs hardly caught a glimpse of their opponents’ 22 metre line and all that they could contribute to the half time score of 25-3 was a Richard Gregg penalty.
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As Jack Micans excused himself for 10 minutes on the sidelines at the referee’s pleasure after sixteen minutes had been played, Ealing helped themselves to two of their tries.
To many OA spectators and presumably, their management, it seemed that as OAs were fighting back in the second half, an identical offence by one of their number merited only a penalty. But by then the game was just a statistic.
Enough, then, of a half in which despite regular drenchings from on high, OAs failed to wake up.
Matters improved in the second half despite an early scrum won by Ealing against the head which exposed the front row full of substitutes and the back five.
OAs drove back to Ealing’s 22, with wing, Mark Evans, just caught within a metre of the touchline. From the ensuing lineout, Ealing kicked back upfield to within fifteen metres of the OAs line only to transgress and give away a penalty. Gregg pumped a high kick right into touch 30 metres out from the Ealing line.
From the throw in Stefan Liebenberg fed Gregg to execute a neat switch move with inside centre Chris Lombaard who dashed for the line close to the posts which Gregg converted.
An inspiration? No. Three minutes later Ealing drove back upfield (the ‘up’ in upfield is not to be taken lightly) and despite frenzied tackling from Tom Powell and Jaime Bache, Ealing contrived to work the ball across-field and conjured a brilliant flick-on pass to give left winger Owen Bruynsees time to round his man and score in the corner.
Fortunately for OAs’ battered league points difference Ealing full-back and place kicker, Neil Hallett, had his boots on the wrong feet as he only bagged a penalty and one conversion from five chances in the first half, and also missed this one to make his afternoon’s tally a meagre seven points.
The good news is that OAs fought back after that try and camped on Ealing’s line for a full ten minutes of tap-and-go penalties, free kicks and scrums. The bad news… no score.
Instead, to show that they could absorb as well as create pressure, Ealing booted the ball upfield, Hallett chased and nearly scored a try but had a scrum awarded on OAs five metre line.
Without further ado they pushed OAs ignominiously over their line for No.8 Anders Nillson to score and Hallett convert.
Other than another brave run by Mark Evans, that was it; losers by six tries to one. Another month, another dawn? Last November a rugby magazine awarded OAs ‘Team of the Month’ and to whet the appetite for a home game next week it’s Taunton, yesterday’s conquerors of Jersey.
OAs: Gregg, May, Adams, Lombaard, Evans, Shanahan, Liebenberg, Cecere, James, Ellershaw, Gillings, Cooper-Millar, Bache, Micans, Powell
Reps: Cope, Hughes, Alford, Lincoln, Vinnicombe.
* Only the Grizzlies were at home on Saturday and they comfortably dispatched a Hertford side 47-7.
The second team shaded a nail-biter 30-31 at Readingensians, while the third team went to Hertford to play their Exiles and came home with a 29-12 win.
Meanwhile, the fourth team went to play Borehamwood’s first team and lost 20-10.