Ten-try OAs bid farewell to Hinckley

OAs end campaign with big win

Old Albanians 64 Hinckley 7

IT was a wonderful afternoon for the last game of the season graced with running rugby at Woollams as OAs used the firm, alopecic pitch to run riot at Hinckley’s expense.

Prop James Ellershaw both wingers Simon Lincoln and Tesh Edwards and replacement flanker Rob Farenheim all scored two tries, whilst hooker Wes Cope and full-back Richard Gregg bagged one apiece. Gregg also improved seven of the tries for a personal haul of 19 points.

Already relegated Hinckley resolutely and single-mindedly played ten-man rugby – a style ill-suited to this opportunist league – from the first moment to the last when lock, Ben Marshall, drove over for a try close to the posts which No 6, (yes, No 6) Tom Morris, converted to avoid a nilling.

The meeting of the two sides in the first match of the season, and for both the first in an upper league, resulted in a 30-35 away win for OAs as it took until the last five minutes to break the stranglehold of Hinckley’s strategy.

This time it took 23 minutes for OAs to break the spell of fighting ten-man rugby with 10-man rugby and escape with a surge to the line by Ellershaw. Despite that score and an unconverted try by Lincoln after a 40 metre upfield surge by Chris Lombaard three minutes later, the half wore on with little promise of better to come. Indeed, the biggest cheer of the afternoon was for the referee’s half time whistle.

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Tempting as it was to go indoors and watch a re-run of the royal wedding, the OA faithful stayed by the touchline and were richly rewarded for their patience as the second half blossomed with nine tries. After five minutes, Ellershaw was the receiver of a penalty kick which he again drove through the Hinckley defence to score. From the restart OAs regained possession as Shanahan fed Lombaard on to Gregg to finish and clock up the club’s 27th bonus point for the season. This, with the four points for the win, took the cumulative point score to 101; earlier in the week at Shelford the total of points amassed in all games passed the thousand mark and now stands on 1,080.

A move which started with a 40 metre run from Andy Daish ended with Shanahan directing a kick into the opposite corner for Tesh Edwards to chase and score from, but to the sound of a collective ‘aaaargh’ from the crowd it was just over-pitched. But it only took a four minute wait until Lincoln again scored, this time after a superb combination of passes between Gregg and Chris May, who played a selfless game denying himself the glory as his hard work was finished off by his close supporters.

He also featured in the next score as approach work by him, Lombaard and Lincoln again resulted in a touchdown for hard-working hooker Cope. The next scores happened in pairs as Farenheim, replacing skipper Lawrence White, dotted down twice in 10 minutes to take OAs’ score past fifty. It was then left to Edwards to bag the last brace of tries, the second from good approach work and a big welcome back to Eddie Panting, coming on as sub after a long lay-off following concussion.

The last minutes of injury time an apparently quite unnecessary yellow card was given for a technicality to replacement prop, Marco Cecere, as the game was to all intents and purposes over. This allowed Marshall to take advantage of OAs being a man short and dive over for Hinckley’s last gasp in this league.

As at Shelford, OAs played with four wingers in the three quarters and, as with May, Lombaard played a marvellously creative game to put away his colleagues as the last-ditch tackle robbed him of the coup de grace. A warm welcome to Joe Binfield, a second team regular, who stood in manfully for the injured Mark Evans. Alex Brown had a strong game in the front row, where the elusiveness of the three quarters is made up by the subtlety of Ellershaw, and lock Marc Comb found space in the heavy traffic to put some hard yards in. Ollie Cooper-Millar again took up the challenge of jumping at the front of the line and distinguished himself by disrupting Hinckley’s catches, sometimes legally.

A bigger challenge faces OAs next season as they hope to keep the nucleus of this squad together to face tough new opposition like Hartpury College being promoted from below, and travelling at least as far as Launceston, Cornwall, to visit sides demoted from National League One.

OAs: Gregg, Edwards, May, Lombaard, Lincoln, Shanahan, Binfield, Ellershaw, Cope, Brown, Comb, Cooper-Millar, White �, Bache, Daish.

Subs: James, Cecere, Laws, Panting, Farenheim.