Old Boys Battle
Elthamians hosted Albanians in Saturday’s contest between the country’s two most senior Old Boys sides and though both clubs have been decidedly open for years, this trial of strength lost none of its charm for all that.
A full blooded battle was enjoyed by a large and sporting crowd as two mighty packs collided before spinning the ball to two talented sets of backs. It was the visitors who made the first marks and, possibly because of that early lead, Ross Hamilton’s men were always in touch and indeed were able to clinch the win five short minutes from full time.
A’s kicked off up the gentlest of slopes on this warm day, and soon established a pattern of possession and position well into OE territory. They had fly half Tom Bednall to thank for their early lead when he was successful with two straightforward penalties. He also converted a try by Alex Post who crossed after a carefully worked assault in left field.
Elthamians regrouped mightily and, five minutes apart just into the second quarter, Ben King and Nathan Morris were driven over from short lineout mauls. Tom White improved both to gain the narrowest of leads.
Narrow and short lived as Nick Foster was himself driven to the line just before the interval, Bednall successful from the touchline.
White closed the gap with a penalty seven minutes after the restart before the dogfight began. Speedy wing James Golledge regained the Elthamian lead but not close enough to the sticks for White’s kick. Then with nearly a quarter left Harry Elbrow charged off the side of what appeared to be a beaten scrum and, ball in hand, tore through a fractured defence by the right corner flag. Bednall’s aim was unerring.
Scrum Half Ollie Claxton and White’s conversion turned things round again in a breathless finale but it took until the 75th minute for the match decider.
The Elthamian lineout, a well-oiled machine all afternoon, somehow mishandled their own throw and Morgan Thompson took ball and opportunity down the right touchline. Skipper Hamilton was on hand for the final few hard yards. He seemed to have been stopped but pure strength took him the final few inches for the bonus point and the win. Bednall again made no mistake with the tricky conversion.
Four nervous minutes remained and certainly one penalty was conceded by Albanians too close to their line for comfort. But the defence held and OAs now prepare for the visit of Plymouth next Saturday.
On two occasions recently the Albanian scrum has been bossed in the tight and for a period in the middle of this match the same thing happened. Somehow the pack regained equilibrium and stopped the setback becoming a rout up front. This takes organisation, effort and massive determination and all tight forward are to be congratulated for their attitude and application.
Similarly the back play has been a tribute to the precision of all responsible.
Genuine hope remains!
Tries: King (22), Morris (27), Golledge (54), Claxton (66)
Pen: White (47)
Cons: White x 3 (23, 28, 67)
Tries: Post (17), Foster (38), Elbrow (61), Hamilton (75)
Pens: Bednall x 2 (3, 14)
Cons: Bednall x 4 (18,39, 62, 76)
Old Elthamians: Surman, Golledge, Moffat, Wilkins, Bennett, White, Claxton, L Brown, Morris, Rogers, Preocanin, Self, Messum, Denbee, King. Replacements: Fordham, Devine, Munnelly, Parker, Emmerson.
Old Albanian: Foster, Bridger, Deane, White, Dowsett, Bednall, Daly, Hughes, Walliker, Reed, Hamilton, Edwards-Bailey, Post, Elbrow, Lunnon. Replacements: Martinez, McCallum, Dodd, Brown, Thompson.
Referee: Philip Davies
Half-time: Old Elthamians 14 Old Albanian 20
Press & Publicity
National 1 Player of the Week
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