OA try feast at Woollams
National Three, London and South East Old Albanian RFC 45 Sutton and Epsom RFC 6 IN-FORM wingers Dene Miller and Chris May led an OA try feast with two scores each against struggling Sutton and Epsom. Propping up the table with only three losing bonus po
National Three, London and South East
Old Albanian RFC 45
Sutton and Epsom RFC 6
IN-FORM wingers Dene Miller and Chris May led an OA try feast with two scores each against struggling Sutton and Epsom.
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Propping up the table with only three losing bonus points to their credit, the last thing the visitors needed on a daunting trip to Woollams was to have to play half of this match with one man down.
That was their fate, however, after prop Sean Kent had seen red for throwing several punches at OA's captain Lawrence White five minutes before the interval.
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White returned with a bandaged head after sitting out 10 minutes himself and, thereafter, steered his side to their biggest win of the season to date.
An otherwise good natured game offered up plenty of entertainment including seven tries to the delight of the home fans, swelled in number by a large contingent present for the Georgie Robinson Memorial match which followed under lights on the show pitch.
Sutton, who had recalled veteran Sam Frost to fill a troublesome hole at fly half, kept their poise to remain in contention during the first period and showed a willingness to counter attack at every opportunity.
The Woollams Men still held the balance of play and, without a succession of handling errors going forward, would surely have been sitting on a more convincing scoreline than that of 14-6 which stood at half time.
Sutton's points came courtesy of penalties from Frankie Murray and Frost.
In between these kicks, James Ellershaw, whose influence increases by the game, had barged over and Miller had scored his first in the corner after Paul Gustard had set up a counter attack on the right flank.
The game had slipped further from the visitors within only two minutes of the restart as May turned on the power.
The strong running winger twice carved a track through the heart of Sutton's defence and, on the second occasion, slipped a cute inside pass for Richard Gregg to go under the posts.
OA's, now with their numerical advantage established, began to stretch their opponents with some enterprising movement along the back line, but a mix of inaccuracy and sloppy handling prevented their superiority being translated into points on the board.
The enthusiastic crowd for this fixture, sponsored by Mike Pattison of International Labmate, had to wait until the 60-minute mark before adding to their tally.
The score, when it came, was a tribute to OA's second row partnership of Marc Comb and Ross Hamilton who worked together so well, not least in the much improved lineout where Charlie Hughes threw accurately throughout.
On this occasion, the referee allowed advantage to be played just outside the '22' and out of the confusion of bodies, there appeared Hamilton with a bolt of acceleration to unlock the defence for Comb to finish in style. The Woollams Men were now in a commanding position and, with holes appearing in an overworked defence, set about extending their winning margin.
Miller notched again running in a brilliant, individual effort from 35 metres and Gregg obliged with his fifth, and final, conversion of the day.
The stage was set for May, now operating at full back, to seal an excellent performance with two late tries of his own, the pick of which saw him take out his markers with a deft kick ahead which he then retrieved before stretching for the whitewash.
OA had given excellent value for their bonus point which keeps them well in touch with the small group of teams pursuing league leaders Jersey.
On an adjacent pitch OA's second XV showed excellent spirit and resilience in beating Sutton & Epsom's second XV 28-7 and thus extending their unbeaten run to five matches in Canterbury Shield Division Three.
This result against the table-toppers was even more remarkable as OA had lost two key players to the First XV an hour before KO due to some late fitness test failures. Tries were scored by full back Adrian Dennis (two) and fly-half Storm Pearton (two) and all were converted by Storm Pearton, who was deservedly awarded Man of the Match for his inspired performance.
Next Saturday OA first XV enjoy another home fixture when Haywards Heath visit Woollams (KO 3pm).
OA: Azzopardi, May, Lincoln, Edwards, Miller, Gregg, Evans, Ellershaw, Hughes, Tawera, Comb, Hamilton, Townsend, White, Gustard. Reps: Nelson, Lye, Henderson.