OAs penalty try slays Lydney

OAs back up to fifth after bonus-point win

National League 2 South

Lydney 23 Old Albanian 41

AFTER a challenging first half of a match, which last season resulted in OAs frittering away a three-try lead to lose at the last gasp, the Woollams Men again found themselves behind on the scoreboard 23-19.

This time it was different. A much better and disciplined OA side, who had given away seven penalties in the first 30 minutes of last week’s game, kept their cool giving away only eight in the match. As a result it was Lydney who became flustered and gave away a penalty try on their five metre mark; the heads went down and their grip on a tight and exciting match loosened. Worse, they failed to add to their score while OAs, in a clinical display, rubbed salt in the wound with a further 15 points.

Lydney’s first half was a revelation to those who recall their dour keep-ball players of last season. They have recruited two speedy wingers responsible for the large scores they have racked up before this match and responsible each for an explosive piece of running to notch up two tries before half time. The old Lydney resurfaced briefly as lock, James Bashford, crashed over with his forward colleagues in tow for a third in the psychological five minutes before half time to make the scores 17-12. Kicker Craig Jones, who was subbed at half time for Brett Turner, only converted one of the three.

For OAs there was good and bad news. In all four matches so far the team appear to emerge after half time slowly and sloppily. As a consequence, Turner could not believe his luck as he slotted two simple penalties in three minutes early in the half.

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The good news is four-fold. Back from injury, the bearded figure of Paul Gustard has rejoined the side, revitalising OAs’ approach to both ruck and maul. Several key turnovers were gained from a side whose reputation for generosity in loose play rivals that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A second bonus is the blooding of Scott Spurling at hooker to take the load off Wes Cope now that Brad James has departed. A former Wasps youth player, he brings some real zip to the loose encounters which outweighs the odd over-eager mistake or two.

Thirdly the scrum as a whole performed well and dented the reputation of the home side with some powerful drives both in the set piece and the loose. Prop Marco Ceccere was the star turn adding the game’s first two tries to take his tally to four in four games.

The return of Richard Gregg and Terry Adams put some lead in the three-quarters’ pencil and although Adams was understandably ring-rusty in the first half he helped himself to a brace of tries in the second half. Gregg added pace darting into the line and walked away with a penalty and four conversions to his name. Ollie Marchon had little space in which to operate but continued to impress with incisive runs and the ability to keep the ball under pressure.

Having two hungry wingers to feed had put a strain on Lydney and it was Lombaard who cleared up some iffy handling by one of them to scamper over from Lyndey’s 22-metre line after some fluid movement from James Shanahan and Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier ran into tacklers.

Next week at home OAs meet an unknown quantity in Hartpury College, also from Gloucestershire, who have shot up through the leagues.

With the bonus point for four or more tries, OAs reclaim fifth spot in the League, while Hartpury are hot on their heels in sixth.

OAs: Gregg, May, Adams, Lombaard, Marchon, Shanahan, Bruzulier, Hughes, Spurling, Cecere, Gillings, Comb �, Gustard, Cooper-Millar, Daish

Subs: Cope, Ormesher, Bickle, Farenheim, Spiers.