OAs toast derby victory

London One Old Albanians 24 Bishop s Stortford 6 OLD Albanians won the battle for local pride with a good home victory against Bishop s Stortford at Woollams on Saturday. Stortford arrived at Woollams in confident mood for the derby clash, sponsored by brewers Adnams

London One

Old Albanians 24 Bishop's Stortford 6

OLD Albanians won the battle for local pride with a good home victory against Bishop's Stortford at Woollams on Saturday.

Stortford arrived at Woollams in confident mood for the derby clash, sponsored by brewery Adnams.

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The visitors had first use of a strong wind blowing end-to-end and fly half, Tom Coleman landed two successful penalties in the opening 20 minutes.

The opening quarter was Stortford's best period of the game and OAs had to tough it out in defence before looking to launch counter attacks. With full back Tom Chesters linking up well with the wingers and Oliver Peck's partnership with Richard Gregg continuing to blossom at half back, the OA backs always looked threatening in possession.

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OAs ended the half strongly and finally breached the Stortford defence when a sweet move on the right after 25 minutes gave Ed Panting a one-on-one situation which the marksman finished with ruthless efficiency. Soon after, Gregg was equally clinical when diving over from a ruck just short of the line.

The Woollams' men looked odds on to increase their lead when in the last action of the half, the industrious Terry Adams fed Arthur Mate who was apprehended with a strong tackle a stride away from glory. The genial Zimbabwean lock forward, Mate, enjoyed one of his best games for OAs before taking a knock and being replaced by Jeremy Edwards for the final quarter.

The absorbing contest between two traditional rivals suffered as a spectacle thanks to numerous stoppages from the match official. Players showed their frustration and a number of heated exchanges ensued without ever getting out of control.

Stortford full back Brock Gibbon and winger Joe Clarke strived tirelessly to fashion the openings and on more than one occasion the visitors looked to have pierced OAs defensive wall only to be denied by the final tackle.

At the other end Mark Mansfield went on a mazy run but ultimately lacked support whilst Terry Adams, released from defensive duties, worried his opponents with a searing drive down the middle.

Phil Freil replaced Peck and maintained the high quality of distribution from the scrum whilst Andy Clarke came off the bench for Adam Gelman, his hard work completed for the afternoon. Other notable performances were delivered by Aussie, James Kriukelis and Matt Alford on the flank.

With only one score separating the rivals, and the prospect of a large chunk of extra time looming, minds went back two seasons when in the same fixture Stortford had stolen the game with a try in the 14th minute of time added.

Things were different this time as the OA forwards turned the screw and put a more realistic slant on the scoreline with their powerful finale. First OAs forced a penalty try in which prop Nathan Byrne was prominent and then deep into the extended extra time period, the 24-6 success was completed with a trademark, push over try from skipper Gregg Botterman.

As a reflection of the current strength of Herts Rugby, no less than four of the Counties sides currently command a place in the ultra competitive Powergen London and South East One Division. Next week sees another all Hertfordshire affair as OAs travel to Hertford who trail the Woollams' men on points differential.

OAs: Tom Chesters, Ed Panting, Terry Adams, Tryfan Edwards, Mark Mansfield, Richard Gregg, Oliver Peck, Adam Gelman, Gregg Botterman, Nathan Byrne, Arthur Mate, James Kriukelis, Paul Gustard, Matt Alford, Alex Bennett. Subs used: Andy Clarke, Jeremy Edwards, Phil Freil.

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