Some yips as Yapp’s boot buries OAs
Fourth successive defeat for OAs
National League 2 South
Taunton 34 Old Albanians 31
IT was exactly a month ago, on 12th February, when OAs last won a match. This was at home against Lydney. Since then home matches against Jersey and Ealing and one away to Richmond have produced close but unproductive losses. None, however, produced the last gasp cliffhanger witnessed at Taunton as the lead changed hands four times, culminating with both sides locked in a dance of sudden death with the scores tied at 31-31.
Having succumbed to a bruising 50-point defeat at Woollams last November, Taunton welcomed OAs to their expansive for a spot of west country revenge but it was the visitors who raced into a 12-nil lead within 15 minutes.
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Tries by James Shanahan following a 45-metre upfield surge and by a welcome return to Rob Farenheim at No 7 as he raced 35 metres two minutes later to allow a ruck from which Terry Adams created enough space to round three would-be tacklers and score. Richard Gregg improved this second try but had a thin afternoon by his standards with only two other conversions adding points that were more sorely needed the further the match progressed.
Undeterred, Taunton swiftly replied with two tries of their own again within two minutes of each other, the first when hooker Ted Stagg barged over closely followed by OAs’ first lapse in concentration in an afternoon riddled with it, when winger Jason Luff intercepted a passing movement in the three quarters and proved unstoppable from half way. Fly half Tony Yapp converted both tries to give Taunton the lead at 14-12.
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Not to be outdone, OAs added a further brace of tries before half time to pick up a four-try bonus point firstly when No.8 Andy Daish swooped on a piece of misunderstanding at the back of a Taunton scrum and ran in unopposed from 20 metres. Daish was heavily involved in the second as ball carrier to set up Adams for an incisive run with only the full-back to beat, which he did by passing to Chris May up in support.
Taunton began the second half like men possessed. Fijian international, Apo Satala, at No.6 suddenly came to life and needed three OAs to bring him to a halt, out side centre Christian Gervais, started to punch holes in the visitors’ defence and unlike in the first half when Yapp had kicked for position at almost every opportunity the ball remained in the hands of Taunton’s support players.
This pressure took its toll on OAs. Scrum-half Stefan Liebenberg was felled by a late charge with the miscreant only receiving a finger-wagging. Penalties were given away as OA carriers were successfully isolated by Taunton and eventually it was their skipper, No 7 Sean Fox, who broke through with a try in the twenty second minute of the half. However, it was a horrid lapse of concentration by OAs when only two minutes later, No 12 Stephen Ward, broke through weak tackling to set up Luff for his second try; both were converted by Yapp and the score stood at 28-24 to Taunton.
However, OAs did fight back and good performances were seen from Alex Brown, who has successfully anchored the OA scrum tight head for a number of matches now, Wes Cope as ever tackling anything that moved and skipper, Marc Comb. At last the lead was regained five minutes from full time when OAs began a sequence of pick-and-go which gave space for Chris Lombaard to feed Adams for his second try which, with extras, brought the score back in OAs’ favour at 28-31.
This lasted only three minutes when after another concentration lapse, OAs were penalised for handling in the ruck which handed an eminently kickable penalty to Yapp. Yapp calmly added three points to add to his four conversions for the scores to be tied 31-31.
Back came Taunton into OAs’ half in injury time and, Yapp slipped whist attempting a drop goal but had a penalty award. This he kicked but missed. Still 31-31 with only seconds to play so play safe? Not a bit of it. OAs started a passing movement in front of their own posts only five metres from their line and when the ball was Yapp collected and scored drop goal to seal west country revenge.
For OAs a week off is in sight until March 26th when bottom club, Newbury Blues, are the visitors to Woollams.
OAs: Gregg, May, Adams, Lombaard, Evans, Shanahan, Liebenberg, Cecere, Cope, Brown, Comb, Gillings, Cooper-Millar, Farenheim, Daish. Reps: Grey, Hughes, Lye, Edwards, Lincoln.