Slideshow: OAs more Than deserve thrilling win
London One Old Albanians 73 Thanet Wanderers 8 OLD Albanians hit form at Woollams on Saturday to crush Thanet Wanderers and banish the memory of their capsizing at Portsmouth in their previous outing. Wanderers arrived at Woollams after their long journe
Old Albanians 73 Thanet Wanderers 8
OLD Albanians hit form at Woollams on Saturday to crush Thanet Wanderers and banish the memory of their capsizing at Portsmouth in their previous outing.
Wanderers arrived at Woollams after their long journey from Broadstairs with a long list of injuries to key players and possibly fearing the worst.
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Bristling with the criticism heaped upon them during the week, OAs were in no mood to show any mercy, however, running in 12 tries in an entertaining display from their eager back line.
Winger Francis Denney and full back Darragh O'Mahoney shared seven scores between them. The vastly experienced O'Mahoney, with a string of full Ireland caps to his credit, struck up a devastating partnership with Denney, in his first full season in the senior squad, for which Thanet's depleted defence had no answer.
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The Irishman set OAs bandwagon rolling on five minutes, carving his way through a flat-footed defence to set up the combative Tryfan Edwards for a try, before finishing a sweet move himself, courtesy of a Denney break.
Justin Azzopardi, obliged to play in his less favoured position on the wing, was next to go over and then Denney surged clear of two defenders in the other corner. The ability of OAs' ex-Colt to beat his markers on the outside began to suggest the makings of a big score but Thanet bounced back strongly in the last quarter as the OAs effort lost its intensity, a failing that stronger sides would have punished with points. The half time score was 22-3 to the hosts.
The second-half landslide got under way when Denney broke the deadlock on 48 minutes and OAs went on to average a point scored every minute of play. Edwards was giving strength and tenacity to his sides' efforts and Ed Panting, his partner in the centre, snatched an opportunistic score whilst following up Phil Friel's measured punt.
Unfortunately for the Woollams men Panting and Arthur Mate both succumbed to injuries.
As the visitors committed more numbers to the breakdown, more space appeared for the OA speedsters to work their magic. Mark Evans, on for Panting, outpaced his markers on the left and released O'Mahoney with the perfect pass. Paul Sullivan ensured that the forwards got in on the act taking his side's score to 49 points before his backs resumed their demolition duties.
O'Mahoney and Denney both completed hat tricks before Wanderers notched a deserved try after a determined drive over the home line.
In the last minute of normal time Friel, playing with his accustomed air of authority throughout, went all the way with a gutsy run and the immaculate O'Mahoney rounded off the scoring in a move started by their influential skipper, Alex Bennett. Richard Gregg completed a personal haul of 13 points in tricky conditions for kicking.
In the absence of Gregg Botterman through injury, Adrian Summers made a welcome return at hooker and, well supported by props Andy Pearson and Adam Gelman, lasted the pace.
OAs competently delivered the big win expected of them, a win which, barring unlikely results, will ensure their London One status for the sixth successive year, a feat which only two other clubs can match.
In their remaining fixtures the OA supporters will be looking for their team to demonstrate the resilience and consistency which has eluded them to date. Their yellow-card count has also reached an unacceptable level and needs to be remedied.
The first test comes next Sunday when the Woollams men travel to in-form Stevenage for a repeat of last year's Herts President's Cup semi final when the home side recorded a deserved win. Kick off is 2.30pm.
OAs: D. O'Mahoney, F. Denney, E. Panting, T. Edwards, J. Azzopardi, R. Gregg, P. Friel, A. Gelman, A. Summers, A. Pearson, A.Mate, R. Burr, A. Bennett , P. Sullivan, P. Mansfield. Subs Used: J. Steventon, M. Rout, M. Evans.