OAs keep up the pressure on leaders

Bonus-point win for OAs at Taunton

National Two South

Taunton 6 Old Albanian 37

OLD Albanian hit the homeward trail from Taunton with another very convincing win under their belt, extending their winning run to a staggering 12 matches and securing a precious bonus point for their five try tally in the process.

Whilst lacking the high drama of their 60 point demolition of the Somerset side earlier in the season, in this latest performance, OA’s demonstrated all the less spectacular qualities necessary in a side with serious promotion credentials.

Long serving coach Bruce Millar summed it up in praising the increasing maturity of his young side as they kept their discipline throughout, did the simple things well and waited for the scoring opportunities to present themselves.

This was well illustrated in the opening quarter when they worked hard to move a greasy ball against a swirling wind and opponents keen to erase the memory of their own disastrous visit to Woollams last October.

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All the visitors had to show for their dominance in the first half hour were two well struck penalties from their full-back Richard Gregg who finished with a personal tally of 17 points and topping a fine all round performance with a try of his own on full-time.

Nevertheless The Woollams Men maintained their work rate and their precision at the line out and at rucks guaranteed an ongoing lion’s share of possession.

Their patience was rewarded with two tries before the interval. On 35 minutes Charlie Hughes offloaded to Jimmy Speirs to go over after Luke O’Keefe’s burst had initially stretched the Taunton defence, and Gregg converted out wide. Then Sam Collins, whose speed off the mark posed a constant threat finished a two man overlap on the other wing though Gregg’s attempt to add the points was sabotaged by a slippery patch of turf.

The half finished with a rare visit to OAs’ 22 by Taunton who had to settle for a penalty stroked over by Tony Yapp.

The small band of visiting supporters suitably acknowledged a measured performance and a thoroughly deserved lead of 18 points to three.

Within a minute of the restart Yapp was on the scoresheet again after Greg Charlton and Dave Bates, tireless members of Taunton’s back five, had combined well. Their side’s best period of the game followed as the home half backs prompted successive attacks without being able ever to release Reuben Haile on the wing. Previously denied any opportunity at Woollams the league’s top scorer must be happy not to have to face the close attention of OAs’ rush defence for another season, at least.

OAs resumed their scoring midway through the half with an irresistible passage of play. Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier, back from a tour of duty with Wales Sevens squad which took the gifted scrum-half from Cardiff to Las Vegas via New Zealand, ran a penalty and was impeded unfairly. This time Gregg found touch in the corner and Andy Daish ‘jack knifed’ to take the ball from the top of the line out. His side won the subsequent scrum and up popped Chris Lombaard to carve a line through two tackles and behind the posts. Four minutes later Daish himself put the game beyond Taunton’s grasp with the fourth try thus winning that all important bonus point which edges his side closer to league leaders Richmond. Credit here also goes to tight-head Marco Cecere who had confidently joined the line and spun out a wonderful pass, worthy of director of rugby James Shanahan himself. Meanwhile OA’s director of rugby and head coach delivered another masterly performance which won him Man of the Match as nominated by the home adjudicator.

Both tries were improved by Gregg who seized on a O’Keefe pass to cross in injury time. A worry for OA’s however, already without the services of the top scoring back trio of Terry Adams, Ollie Marchon and Chris May, all nursing long term injuries, is Jimmy Speirs who took a nasty knock defending a double overlap, and a certain try in the very last minute.

The Woollams Men give little away these days and finished another game without having conceded a try. Their impressive record reveals a magnificent points scored difference of 451 backed by them having outscored any other team in the division and having conceded fewer points than any of their rivals.

This Saturday at Woollams the focus of attention switches to the rearranged visit of local rivals Hertford which fell foul of the weather earlier in the month.

A large, partisan crowd is expected for this local derby (KO 3pm) after which the England v Wales match will be screened in the pavilion. Admission is �5 for members and �10 for non-members.

OAs: Gregg, Speirs, Lombaard, Collins, O’Keefe, Shanahan, Bruzulier, Hughes, Cope, Cecere, Phillips, Bickle, Cooper-Millar, White �, Daish.

Reps: Spackman, Cade, Farenheim, Evans, Rayner.