Ten-try OAs torment Taunton

OAs too strong for Taunton

National League 2 South

Old Albanians 62 Taunton 7

Four tries from No 13, Terry Adams and three from No 9, Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier helped OAs to a resounding victory against a Taunton side that just couldn’t wait to get on that coach back home.

Another crashing run to the line from prop, Marco Cecere added a try to make his tally five for the season with other scores coming from Ollie Cooper-Millar to make up for being stopped short of the line last week and two from No 4, Tom Jubb. Unfortunately, only the one that Jubb remembered to touch down counted towards the final score.

For Taunton this had uncomfortable echoes of the first meeting of the two clubs at Woollams last season when they limped back to Somerset with a 51-18 thrashing to contemplate. Worse, it leaves them in the drop zone with only two wins so far this season. Unable to break the gain line for three quarters of this match when No 4, Sam Prior, was the last to get up from a concerted forward drive, they lacked any real penetration except from kicks ahead. Their nemesis came in a seven minute period after half time when OAs scored three tries to nearly double a half-time lead of 26-0 to 45-0.

Taunton full-back, Gary Kingdom, converted the only try but crucially missed three penalty kicks in the first half which might have mitigated the half-time scoreline; two went wide and one hit an upright. His counterpart, Richard Gregg, had a slightly indifferent afternoon by his standards with only a 60 per cent strike rate with the conversions he attempted.

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Two key factors won this match for OAs. Firstly their drift defence when not in possession kept Taunton pinned down, and without a playmaker their only option left was to kick their way out of trouble. Secondly – and never mind the flashy individuals who chalked up all the tries – No 10, James Shanahan’s ability to put pace either on the ball as he passed or by a half break of his own making. Smarting from his wife, Hannah’s hockey side having won eleven-nil earlier in the day, Man of the Match Shanahan played as if the Taunton defence were on the next pitch.

However, it was Bruzulier, half French and half Welsh (an interesting conflict of loyalties awaits at the next Six Nations), and wing Ollie Marchon who scored the try of the match between them. Curiously it came from a short period of Taunton pressure in the second half which found them in the OA twenty-two metre area. Against the run of play, OAs won a scrum from which Bruzulier broke away on the blind side, closely followed by Marchon. With one defender to beat on their way to the Taunton line the pass to Marchon was inch perfect as was the return and without breaking stride or with the defender’s interference the french welshman or welsh frenchman sailed over the whitewash and under the posts.

This win consolidates OAs’ position at fifth in the league with a better points difference and one more bonus point than Henley in fourth place. Next week sees the return of Southend to Woollams which should provide a fascinating contest despite Southend’s relatively lowly status at ninth in the league.

Despite there appearing to be no major injuries this week, some cracks are starting to appear in OAs’ squad availability. Despite the imminent return from injury of skipper Lawrence White, the club will be without the services of Andy Daish on Swedish international duty for three weeks and are wobbly in the second row with deputy skipper Marc Comb awaiting the outcome of a knee scan and Tom Gillings’ shoulder also causing concern. Nevertheless, the forwards managed to dominate this week without all three and with the looming presence of Paul Gustard keeping the Taunton back row honest and upright.

OAs: Gregg, May, Adams, Lombaard, Marchon, Shanahan, Bruzulier, Cecere, Cope, Ross, Jubb, Bickle, Gustard, Farenheim, Cooper-Millar.

Reps: Spurling, Hughes, Micans, Evans, Vass.