Away derby for the 3rd XV shows promise for season
OAs Gladiators narrowly lost away in a highly competitive derby to Verulamians 2nd XV, and are eager to host in December to get the result they feel they earned away.
This match represented not just a hotly contested local rivalry but also a begrudging reunion as The Gladiators faced off to ex OAs 2nd, 3rd and Grizzlies players who moved to Verulamians in previous seasons.
Both teams started the match with direct and aggressive running in the first half. OAs having elected to play with the slight slope put early pressure on Verulamians with OAs pack dominating early exchanges and another new centre partnership of Luke Buthee and Niall Keane breaking gain lines.
A knock on from Verulamians gave OAs a central scrum on the opposition ten metre line. No. 8 Steve Maishman picked from the scrum, drawing in their centres, he offloaded to scrum half Rob Fenton who chipped the rushing defence for Niall Keane to skilfully catch the ball on the try line and score the opener for OAs. Class.
From the restart Verulamians retained possession deep in OAs half, and within a few phases stretched OAs defence to score near to the posts and convert for a 7-5 lead. From the restart OAs played their most dominant phases of the match with Jonny Clavey, Connor Mitchell and Phil Brunt the pick of the pack for their line out dominance and attacking play.
Fly half Toby Daley controlled play using the pack to crash up to the opposition 22. Having patiently waited for the moment to attack wide, Toby ran diagonally into the 22 before playing a dummy switch, their centre buying it like an iPhone8 at half price, he popped to Niall who fly through to score. Atkins converted for a deserved 7-12 lead.
OAs continued to put massive pressure on Verulamians but failed to put more points on the board. And went in at halftime happy with the performance but feeling points were left on the pitch.
The second half started badly, with Verulamians clearing from the restart deep in to OAs half, and a defensive error allowing them to run uncontested under the posts to score and convert easily for a 14-12 lead. Shortly after this our brick wall of a centre Luke Buthee was sadly injured, shortly followed by our full back and with a lack of subs, the backs were reorganised with a forward in the back line. This gave the opposition confidence having removed one of their nemeses, and a line break from their 12 enabled them to take a 21-12 lead.
OAs spent the next fifteen minutes in their own 22, defending heroically on the line, it was a testament to their organisation to hold Verulamians out and keep hopes of a win alive.
After escaping the 22 without conceding, OAs piled pressure onto Verulamians, with Maish, Harry, Gyan and Tommy all carrying well and the Gladiators scrum and line outs dominant throughout. This controlled play took OAs to just outside the 22. With the pack causing havoc on the right, Fernando joined the left line from full back, Toby spotted the overlap distributing quickly to Niall who spun it to Fernando – who beat his man on the outside to the corner and intelligently beat players behind the try line to score close to the posts and keep OAs in the contest.. uncharacteristically OAs missed the simple conversion! But at 21-17 were back in the match.
With just two minutes left, Verulamians scored again. Without time and energy remaining it finished 26-17.
A great match, played in tremendous spirit from both sides.
Niall Keane: 2 tries, Tatenda Fernando: 1 try, John Atkins: 1 conversion.
Alan Kirk, Philip Brunt, Gyan Rhodes, Jonny Clavey, Connor Mitchell, Lloyd McConkey, Tommy Daley, Steve Maishman (VC), Rob Fenton (C), Toby Daley, Jeff Ninalga, Luke Buthee, Niall Keane, Tatenda Fernando, John Atkins. Harry Knighton, Tito, Big Willy (water & beer boy)
|Verulamians Rugby Football Club|
|Verulamians Rugby Football Club, N Orbital Rd, London Colney AL2 1DW|