Nine straight wins for OA
National Three, London & SE Old Albanian 35 Tring 10 IN THE run up to this encounter, OA s recent outstanding run of success received acknowledgement in the form of their being voted Team of November by a National Rugby magazine. Adding to the party at
National Three, London & SE
Old Albanian 35 Tring 10
IN THE run up to this encounter, OA's recent outstanding run of success received acknowledgement in the form of their being voted 'Team of November' by a National Rugby magazine.
Adding to the party atmosphere on Saturday were Saracens cheerleaders, making a guest appearance to cheer on the boys and brighten up a dull, December afternoon.
When the serious business began, OA made it nine wins in a row in the heat of a feisty, local derby against Tring.
Without ever reproducing the brilliant form shown of late, OA's performance was thoroughly effective and, though the visitors' backs looked dangerous in patches, The Woollams Men always maintained the upper hand.
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The final try count of four to one broadly reflected the passage of play as OA notched up another bonus point, keeping them just in sight of league leaders Jersey.
Though of little consolation to a side struggling for points, Tring's try, as the second half had barely opened, was the first conceded by the league's meanest defence since the end of October, in an estimated six hours of rugby.
OA ended the first half with a comfortable 21-3 lead but were caught napping from the restart when a sloppy piece of defending allowed Jon Morgan, the visiting hooker, to burst through. The conversion by Tom Newton put his side right back into the game but their delight was short lived as OA's skipper Laurence White, seized an opportunity to put Ed Panting in with a characteristic sprint over the whitewash.
The opening period had gone with form as the home pack, in which Adam Gelman, Charlie Hughes and Aaron Tarwera were starting together for the first time in the front row, stamped its authority on the game.
Maintaining a useful momentum, the in-form half back axis of Richard Gregg and Mark Evans made good use of a generous share of the possession from break down and set piece. There to witness another influential show from his son was ex-Wasps scrum half Lou Evans paying a visit from his base in the West Country.
Terry Adams, who later in the game stopped Tring hit man Tim Holgate in full flight, also showed his finishing prowess with a brace of tries in the opening 25 minutes.
Adams' second score, the move started by Paul Gustard, saw the hard hitting centre dribble the ball 40 metres before he calmly collected and touched down.
Gregg made no mistake with this conversion. His three penalty kicks were equally convincing and importantly kept the scoreboard ticking over.
In the process Gregg squeezed in to the league's top three kickers bracket with a personal tally of 121 points so far in this campaign.
On show were two of the best full backs operating at this level.
The eagerly anticipated personal battle between OA's Simon Lincoln and Tom Newton did not disappoint as Lincoln operated superbly under a barrage of aerial 'bombs', using every opportunity to counter attack.
Paul Mansfield once again did the business at number eight, and crowned a distinguished display with the bonus point winning fourth try in the 70th minute after good work by White.
With local bragging rights at stake, emotions occasionally ran high and the action was punctuated by a number of stoppages as referee Simon Bradford found cause to lecture players on both sides.
The handful of yellow cards on show, however, came mainly as a result of technical infringements rather than dangerous play.
A word goes to Tring's lock Tom Warren who, after an afternoon's hard graft, was forced to leave the field with a painful injury to his arm sustained in open play late in the game.
With nearly half the season completed, OA look well placed to be in the mix for a promotion play-off place next April if they are able to maintain their organisation and avoid serious injury. Their two most difficult away trips fall either side of Christmas.
On January 16 a large following is likely to be on show for their visit to league leaders, Jersey.
The immediate challenge for The Woollams Men comes next Saturday, however, when they travel to Bracknell who are snapping at their heels in the race for honours.
OA: Lincoln, Panting, Adams, Edwards, Hearn, Gregg, Evans, Gelman, Hughes, Tawera, Comb, Bennett, Gustard, White (C), Mansfield.
Reps: Ellershaw, Townsend, Redfern.