Islanders pip OA in Woollams photo finish
National Three London and South East Old Albanian RFC 13 Jersey RFC 16 JERSEY closed out a tight contest with a successful penalty from fly half Tommy Turner, late into injury time. With the match looking likely to end in stalemate at 13-13, the visitors
National Three London and South East
Old Albanian RFC 13
Jersey RFC 16
JERSEY closed out a tight contest with a successful penalty from fly half Tommy Turner, late into injury time.
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With the match looking likely to end in stalemate at 13-13, the visitors forced a penalty in front of the posts as Terry Adams transgressed once too often in the ruck. Up stepped Turner, son of Paul, himself a Woollams hero, to execute the kick, which left OA with one solitary bonus point to show for all their efforts.
On the balance of defensive play, The Woollams Men would have been good value for a more generous share of the spoils but their frailties going forward were always likely to stifle chances of a decisive win against such accomplished opponents.
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The Islanders, who have ambitious plans for National Two status after their impressive first season in London and South East, negotiated another difficult challenge on the mainland with a powerful and well organised display, and maintained a balance and strength of purpose even when all four substitutes had been employed.
Their forwards were made to work hard by OA's big pack where Paul Mansfield made a sound return at number eight after many months on the sidelines due to injury.
Significantly, the visiting half backs gave their opponents a lesson in the benefits of slick and decisive distribution and, as a result, their three-quarters, in which ex-Coventry centre Donovan Sanders was outstanding, enjoyed more freedom in which to go onto the attack. In contrast, OA's initial passing movements from the break down were laboured and became more predictable as the match unfolded, such that the ever willing, Tryfan Edwards repeatedly found himself fielding passes which had been 'telegraphed' to his grateful markers.
So the subdued array of supporters enjoying the spasms of early autumn sunshine at Woollams could only witness the attacking skills of Edwards, Adams and Simon Lincoln in brief spells, when, for example, Tom Chesters was able to force himself into the line on the counter.
OA's backs had managed to negate a 3-8 half time deficit, however, within 15 minutes of the restart courtesy of a determined effort from winger Chris May. Richard Gregg converted from a narrow angle and then followed up with a smart dropped goal to extend his side's lead.
Having demonstrated this degree of accuracy, it was a mystery to many why the mercurial fly-half hadn't used a favourable wind to go for goal on two occasions earlier, both well within his range.
In the event, OA had elected to kick for possession from which Jersey stole both lineouts with apparent ease and the chances were lost.
OA's failure to make the most of promising situations ultimately cost them dearly.
With 10 minutes remaining Jersey lock James Brownrigg took a short pass within his stride and powered over for a try to add to his opening score, grounded in similar fashion in the game's early exchanges with young Turner adding the extras.
The Islanders earned four points which propels them to the top of the league, and on this showing, will take some shifting from the pinnacle.
On the positive side, OA continue to demonstrate power and commitment but for them to compete with the best, several areas need to be addressed, none more pressing than a lineout which continues to malfunction.
Next Saturday OA resume their travels at Diss before returning to Woollams on Saturday, October 17, for a much anticipated clash with Sutton and Epsom, ko 3pm.
OA: Chesters, Lincoln, Adams, Edwards, May, Gregg, Evans, Ellershaw, Botterman, Tawera, Comb, Bennett, Hamilton, White, Mansfield. Reps: Gelman, Hart, Townsend, Azzopardi.