Twenty-try OAs nuke Newbury
OAs back to winning ways in style
National League 2 South
Old Albanians 132 Newbury Blues 0
THE score itself has sent slightly-foxed Old Albanians historians rummaging through dusty tomes to see if this is the highest-ever OAs total at any level. This is very likely to be the case for a match in which the visitors were lucky to get nil.
All sorts and shapes of records were broken at Woollams as OAs dismembered a Newbury side lacking either the fortune or graft and who are doomed to National Three rugby next season.
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Winger Chris May was first off the mark with a hat trick of tries within six minutes of the start. By the 15th minute mark this had increased to four and although his personal sheet was blank thereafter he contributed many upfield carries which were fed to support players.
Richard Gregg was left celebrating a personal tally of 35 points - enough, in a normal game, to win a match with a bonus point - from 16 conversions and a breakaway try.
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Terry Adams and Teshun Edwards, each scored hat tricks in the second half; Edwards had gone close in the first half a number of times, whilst Adams confined himself to feeding his wingers in the first half before stretching his legs and asserting his blistering pace and smart body swerve in the second to register his own scores.
Rather than sit on a 52-0 half time score, James Ellershaw was brought off the bench to enliven proceedings in the second half. His contribution was two rampaging tries and a fine yellow card for using his hands in the ruck, but his 14 team mates carried on regardless with three more tries during his cooling off period.
There were also tries for No.7, Rob Farenheim, who very nearly bagged a couple more, English Counties scrum-half, Stefan Liebenberg, No.6, Ollie Cooper-Millar and a contribution handed to him by Ellershaw from James Shanahan playing an accomplished role at fly-half.
Wes Cope and Jamie Bache came off the substitutes’ bench to score one apiece, but the man-of-the-match despite only bagging one try was No.8, Andy Daish, for his all-round work rate and canny distribution from the base of the scrum with Liebenberg.
Life is hard for a club like Newbury, who will have dropped two leagues in as many seasons and their arrival at Woollams in a symbolic black coach and only one sub on a bench made for five were portents which held out little hope of any reversal of fortune.
As their trainer admitted before the game, “It’s now all about next season and each individual has been given a target to achieve before then.” In patches, however, they sprang to life and looked a not unreasonable side.
Even impaled on the wrong end of ninety points they mounted a substantial attack on the OA line, which was eventually cleared by Simon Lincoln, on for Liebenberg at scrum-half. They ran and they chased, but once a tackle was missed or a handling error occurred the heads went down and with it the spirit to retrieve the situation.
To the OAs this was meat and drink as they pounced upon any and every advantage on offer to run the length of the field and score.
But for director of rugby, Bruce Millar, after four defeats – each one more excruciatingly close to victory than the last – it provided little opportunity to reassess his side’s strengths and weaknesses as a visit to Clifton next week may reveal.
The Bristol side are unlikely to be as generous with the missed tackles and defensive disorganisation as Newbury proved to be.
However, with five points from this encounter, OAs have pulled themselves up to fifth place in the table but only three points now separate them, Henley and Taunton who both also recorded wins.
OAs: Gregg, May, Adams, Lombaard, Edwards, Shanahan, Liebenberg, Cecere, Gray, Brown, Comb, Gillings, Cooper-Millar, Farenheim, Daish.
Reps: Cope, Ellershaw, Laws, Lincoln, Bache.
n The shortage of players at Newbury meant that the fixture with OAs second team was cancelled.
Whilst not scaling the heights of the first team’s score there were wins for the third team who sent Bury St Edmunds packing down the A14 with a comprehensive 49-12 drubbing.
The fourth team escaped from HMP The Mount with a steal of a 31-5 victory and the fifth team overcame Cuffley 34-12.
The match that mattered most to boost funds for research in memory of OAs’ player Richard Thomas, who lost his fight with leukaemia aged only 22, resulted in the Vets from Richard’s year beating their counterparts from Welwyn Rugby Club 26-14 in a floodlit game on the first team pitch.