Old Merchant Taylors take all the points at Boggymead

St Albans were beaten 24-13 to Old Merchant Taylors in their opening London 2 North West fixture.

St Albans welcomed newly promoted Old Merchant Taylors to Boggymead for the first League fixture of the season. With the weather fine but not hot and little wind it was an ideal day for fast flowing rugby.

It did not start well for Saints as they lost their full back, Sam Millicheap to injury during the pre game “warm-up” session which required last minute changes in personnel. OMT kicked off and in the early exchanges Saints looked competent and moved the ball to good effect with new scrumhalf, Heemi Peina providing quick and accurate ball from the scrum.

Saints forwards appeared “up for it” and after a period of pressure in the OMT half were rewarded with a kickable penalty which Harry Trude converted. This seemed to galvanise OMT, as they then freed their formidable back line who showed why they will be a force to reckon with this season. OMT centre Joe White finished off a fine move for their first converted try of the afternoon.

Very soon OMT crossed the Saints line again following another powerful surge from their backs which allowed fullback Adesanya to join the line and touch down for an unconverted try. St Albans realised that unless they took control it was going to be one way traffic, and to their credit the Saints forwards rose to the challenge. Following on with good teamwork St Albans closed in on the OMT try line and from a drive number eight, Craig Huddleston crashed over for a forwards try. Harry Trude converted with a fine kick from distance.

At this point it looked as though it was going to be a game of “nip and tuck”, however OMT had other ideas and very quickly brought their excellent backs into play. Strong running and assured handling allowed OMT to score two further tries without a response from St Albans.

Saints tried to reassert their strong forward play, but too often the ball was lost in the tackle when ground was being made, this led to the inability to create threatening attacking moves and scrappy play. Following a period of pressure late in the half, Harry Trude was able to add another penalty kick and on 35 minutes the OMT scrum half was shown a yellow card for persistent misdemeanors. Half time arrived with the score at 24-13 in OMT’s favour.

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The second half was similar to the first with Saint’s showing endeavour but with no real cutting edge, OMT on the other hand consolidated their position with two further unconverted tries setup and orchestrated by their strong running back line.

This was a “wake up and smell the coffee” game for St Albans as they can expect more of the same from the the teams they face in this strong London NW2 league. On the plus side the forwards showed character and were able to contain and pressure the opposition, with prop Fraser Morris being awarded St Albans “Man of the Match”. Next week Saints face local rivals Tabard and cannot expect any less than the lesson OMT’s gave on Saturday.