League leaders Richmond down OAs with second half show
OAs slip to back-to-back defeats
National League 2 South
Old Albanians 20
OLD ALBANIANS slipped to a second successive defeat after surrendering a 20-3 advantage on a scorching hot day at the ever busy Richmond Athletic Ground.
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OAs leapt out of the starting blocks from kick off testing the opposition backline by moving the ball wide early resulting in full-back Ollie Marchon making a blistering run down the left wing to score in the corner within the first three minutes and this was converted by fly-half Zak Vinnicombe.
The pace of the game was set, based on last week’s game against Hartpury College when No.8 Andy Daish scored in the first nine minutes, but to keep this up for a full 80 minutes was a big task for OAs on an energy sapping afternoon.
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James Shanahan’s side were hoping to achieve a much lower penalty count than in their previous league matches this season but after only seven minutes Richmond fly-half Matt Keville kicked over the sticks for three points after OAs were pinged for offside.
Buoyed by this, Richmond regained possession in attempt to move the ball wide themselves but strong two-man tackles from lock Lloyd Bickle and flanker Ollie Cooper-Millar stopped the attack from penetrating the OA line leading to turnover ball.
With still only 11 minutes on the clock, good vision and support from Marchon allowed him to score again in the opposite corner.
The home side continued to seek out gaps using their back row running inside and outside lines off their fly-half. Flanker Chris Davies in particular found kinks in the OAs’ armour and he made a break into OAs territory only to be shunted to the ground by centre Terry Adams.
This soon changed as OAs were penalised twice in as many minutes but the league leaders failed to capitalise as both kicks failed to meet their target.
OAs responded with an intelligent kick from scrum-half, Jean-Baptiste Bruzilier, down the throat of the Richmond sweeper who was charged down by right wing Chris May, with good numbers in support. A turnover quickly lead to player-coach James Shanahan switching the direction of play to the blind side but the ball never made it safely over the try line.
Richmond needed a try to narrow the scoring gap but OAs extinguished any hope of that when another break from Bruzilier was followed by great linking play between forwards and backs for Adams to score on 28 minutes.
The home side did not give up lightly and after OAs’ prop Charlie Hughes, who was pivotal in the scrums, was taken off a blindside move off a Richmond scrum in the visitors’ 22 could not be stopped and a offload to No 11 James Greenwood lead to a try which went unconverted.
The two teams turned around with OAs leading 20-11 but the second half proved to be a different tale for both sides.
A role reversal ensued as this time Richmond got on the scoreboard early on, when after only three minutes by a push over try by the home pack was converted by winger Gareth Wynne.
With Bruzulier forced out of the action a reshuffle in the backline brought the Shanahan-Lombard 10-12 partnership into action with replacement James Spiers lining up out on the wing.
For the next 30 minutes Richmond pressurised the OAs scrum and kept possession of the ball, at one point putting at least eight phases of pick and go play together in dangerous OA territory but that move broke down allowing OAs’ Swedish international Daish to give OAs yardage with which to rebuild an attacking platform.
Spiers proved his worth by making a try saving tackle on the Richmond speedster Greenwood after he’d run around two OA players on an outside line.
Spiers was released again with a well executed move allowed him to step through the defence and make it for the first time into the Richmond 22 but OAs were unable to add to their tally.
They were made to pay for that as another Richmond scrum resulted in the ball being spun wide to replacement James Brooks who crossed the whitewash to put his team into the lead for the first time with only seven minutes to go. The extras were added by Wynne.
That body blow resulted in more and more gaps starting to appear in the OAs’ defence and a lack of communication in open play was utilised by Richmond replacement David Hughes who sauntered in for an easy try under the posts.
To rub salt into OAs’ wounds the Woollams Men conceded another try when, into extra time, an OAs’ lineout landed beautifully into the hands of the tireless Davies who glided in to finish the match with another converted try under the sticks.
Shanahan’s men will be hoping to end their two game losing streak this Saturday when Barnes are the visitors to Woollams ahead of a tasty looking trip to local rivals Hertford the following Saturday.
OAs: Machron, May, Adams, Shanahan, Lombaard, Vinnicombe, Bruzulier; Hughes, Cope, Cecere, Gillings, Bickle, Cooper-Millar, Farenheim, Daish.
Reps: Bailey, Ormesher, Micans, Evans, Spiers.
* For more photos from this game visit www.egbaldwinphotography.co.uk