32 — 17
The Romans are happy!
The first game of the season saw the Romans take on Tring in what expected to be a fiercely competitive derby game. This proved to be the case with aggressive defences on both sides and feisty breakdown battles.
Tring started well and after riding the initial wave from the visitors, the Romans started to establish themselves in the game through a series of big carries Boggis, Reed, Edwards- Bailey, Bungle Steventon, Clarke and Woolley all looking threatening. A dominant line out and a scrum that was a platform to attack off throughout. After several forays that could have seen OA’s breaking the deadlock, the screw was turning and the penalty count against Tring was rising. Hearle capitalised on this to give the Romans a 3-0 lead.
The pressure was building and with Ross Parsons marshalling the troops wonderfully from Scrum Half, the pressure finally told when after multiple phases against a resolute Tring defence, Fly Half Joe Hearle chipped over the defence from just outside the their 22, collected the ball aerially under pressure and managed to dance his way around the scramble defence powering over to score. Hearle converted for OA’s to lead 10-0.
2 minutes later with the pack starting to assert their dominance, a catch and drive stretched and tested the Tring defence, doing all they could to slow the juggernaut down, space was left in midfield for Hearle to score his second under the post. 17-0 and the Romans looked on course to take the game away. A penalty just before half time saw the score close to 17-3 at the half.
There were a few half chances that went begging but with both Hague Blundy and Bridger looking dangerous, those watching would be forgiven for thinking it would be only a matter of time before one, if not both of them got on the score sheet.
The second half saw a few personnel changes due to injury with Stuart Forrest, Edwards-Bailey coming off soon to be followed by Alex Boggis. Tring stared the better of the two teams and momentum was shifting.
In the space of 14 minutes Tring scored 2 tries. One a well worked move down the right hand side and the other a penalty try from a well formed catch and drive. During this period Rowell Gordon was also sin-binned for persistent infringements by OA’s. at 17-17 with 15 minutes to go the game was back in the balance with Tring in the ascendancy and a man up. A superb defensive effort from all started to sap the energy from Tring with Mike Bond being outstanding throughout with aggressive chop tackles. Wallis was his usual self with immense work rate doing all he could to slow the ball down.
With a rare visit in to the Tring 22 trough a great break from Edwards-Bailley, who had just been reintroduced , Tring had no option to give away a penalty and were indeed very lucky not to see yellow for the infringements that took place in the red zone. Hearle slotted the penalty to make it 20-17. Game well and truly on.
Another scrum launched and attack down the right hand side just in half way, yet again Edwards-Bailley was unleashed, he looked to pass but a stray, deliberate hand terminated the attack. A yellow card followed and momentum had well and truly swung back in the Romans favour.
After a period of prolonged pressure and excellent defence from Tring. They were breached for a 3rd time with Parsons ghosting through a small gap at one of the breakdowns to beat the last defender and score a very deserved try for his performance. That took the game to 25-17. With 2 minutes remaining.
If the effort and determination had kept the Romans in the fight when they were on the back foot for large parts of the second half, the final act displayed the quality the side has. A move which went from side line to side line then back saw Keane score on the left hand side. It was a wonderful team move in which every player had involvement. The final passage of play saw 6 well timed passes which stretched Tring and the final pass from Rowell unleash Keane to go over untouched. Hearle converted to take his personal tally to 22 points and the score to 32-17. The final try securing the try bonus point.
‘It was a very competitive game and the final score does not tell the story of how tight the game was. Tring battled all the way and played some very good rugby. The boys had to dig deep and show character to find a way to win this game. The final try was outstanding. If we can twin that execution with the heart and desire displayed today, we will have a great season.’
Romans Head Coach
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