Romans lose close encounter to league leaders
With both clubs 1st XV’s having a day off OA’s and Hertford field two strong squads for a much-anticipated Zoo League top of table clash at Woollams.
In grey drizzly, damp conditions Hertford came out of the blocks quickly spreading the ball wide and driving hard into a determined and well organised OA defence. The Romans made over 50 tackles in the first 30 minutes and showed real character to hang in there. The only breach during this period was a converted try from a catch and drive at a line out.
OA Romans responded well, and the score remained 7:0 to Hertford for a long period during which Tony Mammen and Will Martin made prominent incursions into the opposition territory.
The general handling given the conditions was of a high standard and Romans training was evident in the drills and patterns displayed. The set scrum also caused Hertford problems with one ending in a heap of bodies and squeals (no injuries thankfully!).
Daley Aremu made a super cross field break of 40 m and Hertford missed a penalty and OA’s had to dig deep in defence. Big hits evident from Aaron White, Daley and Matt Deane. Eventually OAs drove upfield and Will Martin dived over for a good try to make score OA Romans 5:7.
With Hooker Mike Bond now also making dents into the opposition and finding his jumpers well, the tide was turning and the half finished with the Romans on the ascendancy.
Both sides were able to make a number for half time replacements given the full bench available. The second half was a real arm wrestle which seemed to have finally swung Hertford’s way with a score in the corner to make it 14 – 5 to the visitors. The Romans roared back and some patient build up play in the Hertford 22 resulted in a well-taken try for scrum half Charles Kirkland. Hearle nailed the conversion and a few minutes later hit a sweet pen to put OAs into a 15-14 lead.
With a sweet sweet W in sight, Hertford capitalised on a couple of off-sides with two late pens which pushed them back into the lead. Even then the Romans were not done. In the final moments OA had a chance to level after a heroic combined charge down by Mike Bond and Alex Hendon but a knock on near the line heralded full time – Final Score OA Romans 15:20 Hertford 2’s.
The physicality, desire and application were all there on Saturday. Despite the result it was a big step forward in all these areas. The priority now is to make that the new normal and build. Consistency in approach and attitude will bring consistency in performance and then consistency in results.
The general opinion in the club house was that this was a fine effort by OA Romans against another strong squad and bodes well. All in all, a great warm up for players and spectators before the England V Australia game!
Romans Head Coach
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