OAs struggle against former England star Austin Healy
London and South East One Bishop s Stortford 25 Old Albanians 10 OLD Albanians faced a Bishop s Stortford outfit reinforced by the signing of former England international Austin Healy in London One on Saturday.
London and South East One
Bishop's Stortford 25 Old Albanians 10
OLD Albanians faced a Bishop's Stortford outfit reinforced by the signing of former England international Austin Healy in London One on Saturday.
Unlike their hosts, OAs had already secured their League One status for another season and played at times without purpose or urgency in front of a core of long suffering fans.
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In contrast, Stortford needed the two points on offer to virtually ensure their own survival and their combative pack outmuscled the OA forwards, devoid of some 'big hitters' through injury.
With most of their own injury problems behind them, Stortford had a better balance to their side and crucially made fewer errors in critical areas of the pitch. New signing Healy, the ex Leicester, England and Lions star, hailed by many as the next England backs coach, made his debut for the East Herts side. Healy had a quietly efficient game at outside centre, where he showed some glimpses of his vintage form, occasionally piercing the gloom of the dreadful conditions.
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Playing with the wind and slope in their favour OAs had survived a hard time in the set pieces to grind out a 10-7 half time lead courtesy of Richard Gregg who had intercepted an attempted clearance to score, and put over the conversion and a further penalty. The Stortford try also came from a mistake when Darragh O'Mahoney knocked on fielding a penalty attempt on his own line after seven minutes.
Within five minutes of the restart Stortford were ahead and OAs were struggling. The backs continued to spurn the simple option and their colleagues up front were being pushed around in the scrum and hopelessly overwhelmed in the line out, surrendering the possession which their opponents required to prosper. Once again the Woollams' men buckled under pressure and conceded their customary yellow card when Simon Williams was punished for handling on the ground.
Marcus Cattells' brace of tries moved Stortford clear before his prop sealed the victory, and the rewards that went with it, with a try from close range in the last quarter.
Jeremy Edwards, after battling hard, at blindside flanker was replaced by Harry Knighton making his first team debut and James Steventon and Phil Friel came off the bench.
On Saturday, April 12, OAs entertain Civil Service in their last home match of the season. The Chiswick based outfit are unbeaten against OAs and will be looking to do the double over the men from Woollams. A win for Civil Service is unlikely to be enough to save them from relegation and OAs will be motivated to avenge their defeat in the reverse fixture in December.
OAs: D. O'Mahoney, M. Mansfield, J. Azzopardi, T. Edwards, P. Ashford, R. Gregg, M. Evans, A. Gelman, A. Summers, S. Williams, R. Burr, A. Bennett, J. Edwards, M. Rout, P. Mansfield. Subs used: J. Steventon, H. Knighton, P. Friel.