Power defeats Promise
Those of us who remember old fashioned rugby, where power defeated promise, will have appreciated this offering. There were times, earlier in this season, when Albanian packs punched above their weight and shifted much vaunted opponents off even their own ball. Too often lately the opposite has been the case with the decided disadvantage of the selection lottery. This latest offering has given a measure of optimism and praise is due in equal measure to the management team and the playing personnel.
This week the tight scrum performed admirably and it should be no surprise that the backs benefitted accordingly. Too many opportunities have gone begging in recent weeks and too much of that depends upon achieving and maintaining possession. Today showed what could be achieved even with limited possession.
Jack Daly and, later, Morgan Thompson, scrum halves of great fortitude, ensured their outsides got every opportunity which came their way.
The backs were a tremendous mishmash of talent and each backed the other in assaulting the OE line. Twice it worked in spectacular fashion. Firstly Nick Foster rounded his non-plussed opponent and crossed close enough for a successful conversion from Tom Bednall.
Then came the move of the match. Albanians were deep in their 22 when the ball went loose. Foster carried and released Ali Crossdale who was not going to be stopped thirty metres out.
Sam Lunnon’s yellow card followed along with a penalty try and Jay Rudland-Thomas pushed his entire scrum over the line to give Joe Carlisle his conversion attempt. One point difference!
It was not to be! Another close-called defensive effort registered another penalty try and Carlisle’s late penalty sealed matters.
Nonetheless, a well taken effort. Too many chances had gone begging too often.
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Match Preview [archive]
Most of the challenges that face the OA squad right now can be termed difficult and next Saturday’s encounter will likely prove exactly that. Elthamians, in their first National One season, sit comfortably in the middle of the table and they have amassed twice the wins and twice the league points of their hosts. They have also notched eight bonus points to Albanians’ six. Their points conceded tally matches their points scored.
This observer is not qualified to analyse data like this so no more space will be taken up with it other than to say it was an interesting lesson in record keeping.
The future is quite clear: if we keep losing we will stay in the relegation zone. It is as simple as that. We have not been as precise as we should have been in specific areas including defence and the tight scrum. In loose play we can, and do, compete strongly. We have strength, skill and pace in the backs, enough to match most sides on our day. We have to make it our day!
There was improvement against Caldy which is a salve to the troubled mind but we fell into the trap of starting slowly, not for the first time this season. This needs to be addressed.
There has been what amounts to a selection lottery most weeks for the past two months and last week just twenty two fit players were available for selection. Fourteen more were unavailable for other reasons. Head Coach Gavin Hogg believes selection may be easier this week but nothing is definite in mid week so we all live in hope.
For the team members Saturday is the first day of the rest of their rugby lives. May they make the most of it.
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