OAs ship wrecked by Portsmouth
London One Portsmouth 78 Old Albanians 3 OLD Albanians sailed into stormy waters at Portsmouth on Saturday and were soon sunk without trace. The first wave crashed through the creaking boards of the visitor s defence after only two minutes and Portsmouth
Portsmouth 78 Old Albanians 3
OLD Albanians sailed into stormy waters at Portsmouth on Saturday and were soon sunk without trace.
The first wave crashed through the creaking boards of the visitor's defence after only two minutes and Portsmouth stormed further ahead with a second try on seven minutes.
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The match had been billed as a tight encounter between close rivals each too near to this season's drop zone for comfort. In the event, Portsmouth paraded a string of influential signings which has injected a stiffer spine into their pack, and their win enables them now to breathe more easily before a run of difficult, remaining league fixtures.
In contrast, OAs without the necessary strength in depth, continually struggle to find suitable cover when their first choice players are missing and remain prone to spectacular collapses when pressurised and under adversity away from home.
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A dismal performance for the Woollams' men was compounded when, in their first foray into opposition territory, marksman Mark Mansfield, pulled up with a muscle tear.
The sinking OA ship conceded a first half deficit of 31-3 despite the conditions in their favour with the wind and the slope.
Former OA star Simon Gregory, based locally at Portsmouth University, had another good performance for the home side and skipped through a fragile defence to move the score on with his converted try.
Gregory's former colleagues were forced into damage limitation mode, though their attempts to plug the gaps were swiftly compromised when Gronow went over unopposed to complete a hat trick of tries.
Gronow added another and the fragile OA defence, rearranged after further injuries, was blitzed as forwards and backs scored freely.
The final score was 78-3 to the hosts and OAs had to reflect on a team performance as bad as anyone can recall in the Woollams era. A massive improvement in commitment and discipline will be required over the rest of the season if OAs are to redeem a reputation tarnished by yet another failure to compete.
Not lost on league watchers is that the scale of this defeat serves to wipe out the handy points scored advantage previously enjoyed over their closest rivals.
Next league action is on Saturday when bottom of the table, and already relegated, Thanet Wanderers visit Woollams for a 3pm kick off.
OAs: D. O'Mahony, M. Mansfield, E. Panting, T. Edwards, M. Evans, R. Gregg, P. Friel, A. Gelman, A. Pearson , S. Williams, A. Bennett, P. Sullivan, M. Rout, D. Fergusson, P. Mansfield. Subs used: A. Clarke, J. Steventon, J. Mills.