OA’s U16 Backs on Fire In The Winter Sunshine
A crisp, cold late November morning was just what the A team needed to shake off the cobwebs of the previous weeks and play an A Team game for the first time in what seemed an age. Late injuries and the odd cry off meant a chance for some players to sample A team rugby and to test their mettle in the heat of battle.
It has been a while since OAs had pitted themselves against Olney. Most of the spectators could remember was that they were combative, well-drilled with some dynamic individuals who caused problems and today was to prove no different.
With the forwards back to near full strength and George C and Tom Mc tasting their first A team game, a hard match was expected by all. The back line was deprived of Charlie’s tenaciousness but found an able replacement in the shape of Henry B who has signed on the dotted line and is a welcome addition to the squad.
The conditions were just about perfect for rugby and the sunshine took the chill off the day but boy when it disappeared behind the occasional cloud everyone noticed the dive in temperature! The OA’s ladies sporting their newly acquired Winter rugby coats – Hazel modelling the latest from T K Maxx – added their vocal support to the occasion though mostly it consisted of yells of “Is it time for a coffee?”
Tom L looked in fine fettle following his return from County and having been restored to fly half, proceeded once more to boss the game. Spotting a gap behind the defensive line, he chipped over, collected the bounce drove towards the line before releasing Harry to gallop away for the first try. An excellent conversion by Tom L and OAs were 0-7 ahead.
Olney are no push overs though they did push over from a line out ably assisted by some dis-organised OAs defensive moments and suddenly the scores were level once more. 7-7. I think it is safe to say the forwards so often a cohesive unit, lacked that cohesion today and had to work overly hard to get possession of the ball. But whatever Olney could do OAs can do just as well. Having pressurised the Olney line, OAs forced a lineout and Matt C (congrats on Saracens call up) scored a birthday try close to the line. 7-12.
Olney kept up the pressure but Harvey showed all his strength to barrel forwards and with a grubber kick put Olney on the back foot. Matt scrabbled the ball back and then some quite brilliant back play enabled Tom L to release Harry for his second and Tom added the 2. 7-19. In all truth this was an outstanding try and my words cannot express just how good a team try it was!
Clearly OAs wanted to let Olney back in the game and some pretty pathetic tackling accompanied by some good individual skills and the score was 12-19.
More OAs’ pressure and the backs showed just how well they can play. The forwards won good ball and the ball travelled the full width of the pitch through five sets of hands to present Jake M with a try in the corner. 12-24 and half-time.
Whilst the backs were having a field day, the forwards were misfiring and the penalty count was becoming a concern but Ollie DP began to put some distance between the two teams with a fine try close to the posts for Tom L to convert 12-31.
Olney then showed why they are a side to reckon with, though helped by the binning of Ollie for a further penalty following a warning from the ref (don’t take it personally Ollie). OAs were dragged across to one side and the gaps opened up and despite desperate attempts to catch their very elusive winger, they went over 17-31.
Being a man down is never easy but finally the forwards began to click and fine work to secure the ball enabled Matt to go over again. Plus 2 from Tom L 17-38.
The changes were rung and Tom L and Harvey took a breather. Swaps round saw Tom W taking over at fly half whilst Barry continued his excellent work at scrum half, uncomplicated and quick. Having battered the Olney line into submission with the back line screaming like banshees for the ball, it found its way to Henry’s hands and though he did not find a way through he was able to present the ball to Harry to touch against the base of the post for a try. Tom W added a further 2. 12-45.
Olney became increasing demoralised as OAs ran rampant in the last 5 minutes. Tom L chipped over for Henry to run on to bring up the half century and then added the 2 for 17-52. The last try was a solo effort from inside his own half by Harvey who seemed determined to prove a point by adding 5 though his Smith Smash (aka Ash Splash) was… well, not certain the coaches were keen. 17-57.
The final whistle went and the score line did not flatter OAs, indeed with better handling they could have had more tries on the board. There were times when Olney tested us today, particularly early in the first half and at times demonstrated that they are a well coached side that have the ability to score through either their backs or forwards.
OAs now face a busy pre-Xmas and the prospect of a very hard league fixture against Bishop Stortford will be one to savour. One day it will all come together and there were times today when it was close to being that.