Two minute blitz gives OA winning start

National League Two South

National League Two South

Hinckley 30

Old Albanian 35

HAVING conceded an unconverted try to a robust Hinckley side five minutes before half time, OAs slunk off the pitch 20-17 down and looking a beaten side.

After the break they allowed the ball to do the work and upfield surges from wing Chris Lombaard and hooker Brad James put them twice within the Hinckley 22 metre mark. James’ hard work resulted in a penalty in front of the posts. Richard Gregg, who had an accurate afternoon with the boot slotting six out of eight kicks at goal (the two that missed hit the upright) struck and the scores were level, 20-20.

Two minutes later, Terry Adams was on the end of a kick ahead to claim a try, with Gregg finishing in fine style, and OAs had eased ahead to 20-27. Hinckley replied with a penalty, but the pressure told as Hinckley’s number seven, Ben Avent, lost his exquisitely worded and protracted exchange of views with the referee and spent ten minutes on the touchline talking only to himself and watching Gregg excel again for a further three points.

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Taking advantage of his absence and the comparative hush that descended on the pitch, man-of-the-match Chris Lombaard galloped 55 metres to score in Hinckley’s deserted corner to round off OAs scoring for the afternoon.

Hinckley, though, are no quitters. Time and again in the first half we had seen three quarter moves from set pieces begin with a dummy charge through by their No 12 and the pass going straight to Will Keeling at outside centre who would break the OAs back line almost at will and it was no surprise to see it again for a converted try which brought the score to 30-35 with a nail biting twelve minutes to endure before the final whistle. They will probably turn to fly-half, Guy Swaddling, who missed at least three kickable penalties and conversions as their villain of the piece. However, they too scored four tries and lost by less than seven points so have the consolation of picking up two bonus points

Like Leicester Lions in the pre-season game last week, Hinckley were fast, well drilled and disruptive. They rarely lost a line-out, their smaller scrum seemed to wheel OAs as and when they chose, but much more worrying is the time that scrum half Spencer Eke had at the back of both loose and tight ball to mount another attack without fear of disruption by OAs.

For OAs Brad James had a promising first league game picking up plenty of loose ball and proving difficult to stop with a centre of gravity located just above his ankles, but on the downside some of his throws to the lineout were poor. Jack Micans’ debut was going well until a facial injury forced his substitution by Tom Gillings, also in his first match, who put in a fine first appearance.

James Ellershaw was welcomed back after his knee operation which, as well as excising some of his cartilage, seems to have also removed a couple of stone of body weight. Not that this has rendered him invisible or harder to stop, but it was not easy to work out why OAs scrum was being wheeled so easily and why Ellershaw later moved to tight head.

There were first half tries for skipper Lawrence White and another for Lombaard which provided a bonus point, but for OAs the statistics are starting to paint a worrying picture. Last season the OAs defence won plaudits and Club of the Month as being the meanest in the league. In these two pre-seasons and one full league match they have leaked 85 points among which are 11 tries. Yes, the club has lost some valuable players, but the new intake more than redress that balance numerically; emphasis must now be placed on playing for each other if a win at home next week against Shelford is to become a reality.

OA: Lincoln, Panting, Adams, Shannahan, Lombaard, Gregg, Liebenberg, Ellershaw, James, Cecere, Comb, Alford, White (c), Micans, Cooper-Millar.

Subs: Spackman, Gelman, Gillings and Evans

As well as the first team league result, all five OA teams and the ladies Saints team recorded wins.

At Hinckley, the second team powered past an under-strength home side to win 73-5.

Only the third team played at home and beat Hertford 29-27, whilst the fourth team were away at Hertford and the fifth at Bishop’s Stortford and both teams won 0-43 and 7-34, respectively.

Last but not least, OA Saints deluged a Holland XV by 82-7.