OA see off Stortford
National Three, London and South East Bishop s Stortford 15 Old Albanian 34 OLD ALBANIAN made it four wins on the bounce with a thoroughly sound performance against local rivals Bishop s Stortford. A late flourish from the home side put them within brea
National Three, London and South East
Bishop's Stortford 15
Old Albanian 34
OLD ALBANIAN made it four wins on the bounce with a thoroughly sound performance against local rivals Bishop's Stortford.
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A late flourish from the home side put them within breathing space of their high flying opponents before Aaron Tawera's last gasp try won the precious bonus point which propelled The Woollams Men into second position in the prestigious London and South East League.
With Alex Bennett back to punch holes in the opposition's defence, the high work rate of OA's pack was the key to their side's success as they used their power at set pieces in order to maintain a steady supply of ball, which scrum half Mark Evans eagerly translated into repeated attacks.
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OA's pinned back Stortford inside their own 22 from the kick off, but in their first break out the home side opened the scoring after Dene Miller slipped under a high kick close to his line and Jimmy Rea pounced to get a hand on the ball.
Both sides were finding the surface treacherous, as it dried out slowly from the effects of heavy, overnight rain, but neither the conditions nor a line of defenders could deny James Ellershaw, OA's free scoring prop, as he opened his side's account on 15 minutes with a trademark, individual effort from 45 metres out which Richard Gregg converted.
More efforts to build on this piece of inspiration couldn't quite deliver the goods, however Miller was unlucky to have his effort right in the corner ruled out as the winger clipped touch diving for the line. In the next passage of play, the hapless Miller was then adjudged to be offside and Tom Coleman had cause to curse his own misfortune as his 40 metre penalty attempt hit the upright, being cleared courtesy of some nimble footwork by skipper Laurence White.
OA's led 10-5 at the interval three points having come from the trusty boot of Gregg.
An action packed second period gave up five tries, 3-2 in favour of The Woollams Men. Significant in the final margin of victory was Gregg's accuracy with all three conversions and another successful penalty for good measure.
Back-to-back tries in the 43rd and 56th minute appeared to put OA's in the front seats.
First up, Ellershaw showed superb handling skills in keeping the ball live during a move along the line which James Hearn got on the end of and used his pace to finish.
Then Sam Townsend, who performed ably in his less familiar role of number eight, led a charge against the side he has experienced so many ups and downs against, at both senior and junior levels, before releasing Marc Comb to set up Terry Adams for the touch down.
Always dangerous on the counter, Stortford's backs, who had moved the ball decisively all afternoon, forced their way back into the game.
Rea, returning after 10 minutes in the bin, snatched his second after a kick into the corner had unlocked OA's defence.
When Hamish Irving capped an outstanding performance with a deserved score of his own, the men from Silver Leys had reduced the deficit to 12 points and, with plenty of injury time signalled, the next score promised to be vital.
Charlie Hughes had meanwhile come off the bench to bring the number of Woollams' players involved in Saracens current 'A' squad to three, Hearn and Tawera making up the trio.
It was fitting that the Aussie prop, who quietly discharges his duties week in-week out, should have taken the opportunity to steal some personal glory in nailing that score, and securing the bonus point, being on the end of a powerful drive.
Saturday's win maintains OA's 100 per cent record in (five) away matches this campaign.
The management team of Bruce Millar, Mark Langley and Steve Wyre were also left to reflect with satisfaction on the highest position ever achieved in the 80 years of OARFC history before turning their attention to next Saturday's visit of Portsmouth to Woollams ko 3pm.
OA: Lincoln, Miller, Adams, Edwards, Hearn, Gregg, Evans, Ellershaw, Botterman, Tawera, Comb, Bennett, Hamilton, White, Townsend. Reps: Hughes, Smith, May.