7 — 31
First half blitz secures semi-final for Gladiators against HackneyOAs Gladiators travelled away to Hackney in the cup. The squad were keen to get back to winning ways having lost in the league the previous week, the first time since October. Four first half tries gave OAs a strong platform for victory, and despite Hackney fighting back relentlessly in the second half, OA’s defence held firm to progress to the next round.
With only a sixteen man squad several OAs had to play out of position in this game. The pre-match warm-up started in the Captain’s garden with OA’s scrum half and openside flanker Lyle competing in a shoot-out to see who’d throw in at the line. Lyle winning by virtue of being too ugly to swap with a back for line outs!
Connor did a strong shift at hooker, without a grumble, Devon at inside centre, and Kirky at loose-head prop
At kick-off The Gladiators elected to receive. The kick-off was caught by OA’s energetic lock Zach West who set-up the first forward drive by the pack. The ball was quickly recycled to the backs on the halfway line. OA’s excellent flyhallf Toby distributed to the ever aggressive Devon Graham who forced a half-break between the centres offloading brilliantly to release full back Ben Pearce who accelerated past the opposition to pass to Pete Wampamba-Strain for an excellent score. Converted by Toby for 7-0 lead.
The Hackney restart was again collected by OAs pack with Connor, Maish, and Harry getting good field position for OAs. After two phases of aggression from the pack, lock Zach West picked and went, cruising over the ten metre line, splitting the defence and leaving just the full back to beat. Everyone was expected Zach to smash the 15 to the ground, but instead unleashed a Rokoduguni-like side stepper leaving the full back floundering on the ground without a smidgen of contact. Impressive. Converted 14-0.
Hackney retained the restart and put in several strong forward phases of attack using their impressive No. 8 to good effect. It was a strong fight back up to the OAs tryline that resulted in a maul being halted by dogged OA’s defence to award the defending side a scrum. However Hackney were savvy in the scrum kicking the ball through the OAs scrum to the tryline and pounced on the ball to score. 14-7.
OAs fired into the Hackney half from the restart pinning them between their 22 and 10 metre line for several phases, until a poor clearance gave OAs a line-out on the Hackney 22 in prime position for the driving maul. A great throw by Lyle hit Zach and the maul was set and guided by Steve Maishman. OAs went all in with winger Robbie Nicolaou and fly half Toby Daley both risking damaged hair-styles to successfully help get the try over the line. Scored by Alan Kirk for a 19-7 lead.
Before the half OAs scored again through another break from full back Ben Pearce, after great work from centres Devon and Pete to go in at 24-7.
In the second half Hackney threw everything at OAs, and for 35 minutes OAs hardly touched the ball or exited their own half, mostly due to immense Hackney pressure and a few poor decisions and executions from OA’s defence. Even on the rare occasion when Hackney gave OAs a penalty Hackney won the line outs against the head to drive OAs back in their half. Throughout this period OAs defence was as organised as it was aggressive, stopping Hackney on the tryline on several occasions.
All of OA’s players put in massive hits and tireless stints, but special mention goes to Lyle and Lloyd for tireless workrate, to Harry for several turnovers and to Toby, Devon and Pete for flattening Panzer-tank-sized runners time and again.
OAs eventually got reward for their defensive stingyness – the backs secured a turnover deep in their own 22, and quickly released full back Ben Pearce, who sidewinded through Hackney to the touchline, evaded an onrushing behemoth adamant to crush him, and ran the length of the field to score the man-of-the-match winning try. Final score 31-7 to OAs Gladiators.
OAs progress to the semi-final on 14th April, knowing they have the firepower to take on anyone, and have plenty of room for improvement too. Bring it on.
Pete Wampamba-Strain, Zach West, Alan Kirk, Ben Pearce x2
Toby Daley x3
1. Alan Kirk 2.Connor Mitchell 3. Gyan Rhodes, 4. Zach West 5. Harry Knighton
6. Lloyd McConkey 7. Lyle Stewart 8. Steve Maishman (vc),
9. Rob Fenton (c) 10. Toby Daley 11. Tanyaradzwa Fernando 12. Devon Graham 13. Pete Wampamba-Strain 14. Robbie Nicolaou 15. Ben Pearce
Arun Parkash (40″ R Nicolaou), R Nicolaou (55″ T Fernando)
15. Ben Pearce
|HACKNEY RFC, London E5 9BL|