OAs book place in the final

Herts President s Cup Semi Final St Albans 6 Old Albanians 10 OAs booked thier place in the Herts President s Cup Final with a hard fought win over local rivals St Albans. A predictably hostile reception awaited the Woolams men at Boggymead Springs as th

Herts President's Cup Semi Final

St Albans 6 Old Albanians 10

OAs booked thier place in the Herts President's Cup Final with a hard fought win over local rivals St Albans.

A predictably hostile reception awaited the Woolams men at Boggymead Springs as the home side tore into their opponents from the off.

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Old Albanians play in London One, two leagues above the home side, not that you would have known that from the game. Both teams had to play the day before which obviously effected availability and with some players having to play with slight injuries. Although OAs eventually progressed they were severely tested by the underdogs and the result was in doubt right to the end.

The bigger Saints pack, keen to press home their perceived advantage, steamed into the action and dominated the scrums in the first period.

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Emerging from their torrid opening spell without having conceded points, OAs began to settle and forced two penalties down the left as their backs, superbly marshalled by Richard Gregg began to look more influential. Having missed the Walsham trip, Terry Adams resumed his effective partnership with Tryfan Edwards in the centre linking well in both defence and on the burst. Rob Farenheim also made a valuable contribution on his debut for the first XV.

It was St Albans who enjoyed the advantage at the interval however, courtesy of two well taken penalty kicks by full back Mark Kentish.

Coaches Bruce Millar and Mark Langley's decision to introduce Peter Nelson shortly after the break allowed Adam Gelman to occupy his favoured position at tight head and had the immediate benefit of stabilising the hitherto, unconvincing scrum.

OAs share of possession prospered accordingly and, as James Kriukelis continued to dominate the lineout, a firm platform for sustained attack began to materialise from the fiercely competitive, yet scrappy, whistle dominated game.

With their noses still ahead, Saints were being pressurised into more mistakes and when Dene Millar bore down on the Saints line, his marker illegally halted the winger's progress receiving a yellow card for the offence. This set up two, successive penalty scrums for the eager OAs attackers, from the second of which, scrum half Oliver Peck sniped around the blind side and crossed for what proved to be the only try of the match.

Gregg sent over the conversion and then, to his frustration, was narrowly wide with a penalty some five minutes on, with the London One side leading by a solitary point going into the final quarter.

The complexion of this cup tie then might have changed completely. With OAs camped on the home line and considering their options from their latest penalty award, Gelman allowed himself to become involved in an innocuous incident off the ball. The penalty was reversed, a yellow card was brandished and OAs faced a very uncomfortable 10 minutes with a key forward in the bin.

Using all the experience at their disposal and bolstered by massive performances from Arthur Mate and Simon Lye, both of whom had been in the thick of the action at Walsham, OAs closed ranks.

Save for one rush of blood in which Peck had unnecessarily opened up play and Ed Panting had to show all of his defensive prowess in tidying up the counter attack, the Woollams' Men began to increase their stranglehold and Gregg coolly slotted a penalty deep into injury time.

When the promising Joe Vassie stole another lineout deep inside his own 22 St Albans' last chance of a winning score was extinguished and Gregg Botterman was able to proudly lead off his troops for a thoroughly deserved rest.

Although St Albans had been knocked out of the cup, they could look back on a satisfactory weekend's work and take great pride in their afternoon's endeavour.

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