C’s Come Back To Grab Victory At Stortford
B Stortford fielded a full ‘B Squad’ comprising around 25 players So OA’s with a squad of just 18 boys faced a fully loaded and big Stortford side, who play two divisions above them.
Going up hill in the first half, and with Stortford using there big forwards to carry, OA’s found themselves two converted trys down within the first 10 minutes and 14-0 down on the scoreboard. It looked like this was going to be a really tough day at the office, so the boys knew they were not going to muscle this team, but had to start playing with their heads. Gaining good field position, and with the forwards starting to retain and recycle the ball, OA’s began to use their full back line, with Thomas Grey dotting down on the left wing for a first score. Sheldon then scored on the wing, with another well worked move. OA’s got their third when some quick thinking by Euan at a penalty saw, him score under the posts, which was converted. Some more good handling in the centres, saw Sheldon score his second. So at half time the score was 14-22 in OA’s favour.
It looked like OA’s had begun to work Stortford out, and with the coaches reminding the boys to not drop their concentration levels in the second half, more of the same intelligent rugby was called for.
Unfortunately, just like last week (against Watford), the second half didn’t start as planned, with Stortford starting to use they own back line and wingers. They scored three unanswered trys. Taking the score to 33-22, with just 20 minutes left to play. OA’s were looking undone at this point. But with some honest words spoken under the posts, the boys decided that they were in this for the long haul and to a man had no intention of throwing in the towel just yet. OA’s started playing intelligently again, and were capitalising on Stortford’s in-discipline at the rucks and scrums. Kicking penalties at posts or to touch was not going to win the game, trys were needed. So the tap and go was the key move, and the boys soon got into Stortford’s 22. Passing just one or two men out from the breakdown, OA’s were making metres against some fierce defence and when the ball arrived in Leon’s hands 5m out, and with three defenders in front of him, he had no right to score, but amazingly he rolled through the tackles and got the ball down. With the conversion added the score was 33-29.
So there was hope, and the boys were in a mood to add another. Suffering minor injury’s to Jaden, Sheldon and Euan, who were off the field at this point, the OA back line was looking fragile, and in order to bolster both defence and attack, Ben was moved to inside centre. After some more offensive moves in the Stortford half, and recycling the ball from some good forward/backline play, Ben had an opportunity open up in front of him, and scored to the right of the posts. A drop kick conversion made the score line 33-36. OA’s were back in front.
Stortford were then vocally encouraged to go again from their touchline support (that must had numbered about 40 spectators and squad members), and they didn’t disappoint. They were soon deep in OA’s 22, who had to defend hard; to keep them out, Stortford’s discipline let them down, resulting in a penalty. Stortford did not retreat 10m, and at the subsequent penalty on their 22, OA’s decided to tap and go again and started to spread the ball wide. A long pass was intercepted by a bulky Stortford forward, who ran in to score. With the conversion hitting the post and bouncing wide the scoreline was 38-36. Was this to be the cruel end to all of OA’s efforts of the last 15 mins.
OA’s took some much needed breath, and were tired and hurting, but with 5 mins left on the clock decided amongst them, them hadn’t come all the way to East Herts, to not make a final push for victory.
From a good re-start, OA’s competed hard for every ball, gaining possession and going through for the phases the ball was being moved out wide to the right and Euan suddenly found some space, and putting on some gas, managed to slip through and score 10m in from the touchline making the score 38-41.
Had OA’s clinched it. The referee said there was 1 minute left on the clock. At the restart all OA’s had to do was keep possession and then kick the ball dead. But this game had never been that simple, and OA’s coughed the ball up in the tackle, and then conceded a penalty on their 10m line. This time Stortford played a tap and go, and started to get perilously close to the OA 22, and were recycling well. The ball went out wide to the left and with OA’s stoutly defending, the player and ball were tackled, and bundled into touch.
There a brief pause of expectation and the referee’s final whistle blew. The OA players were elated, their supporters and coaches relieved. It was a game played with great intensity, spirit and sportsmanship by both teams, and one, particularly if you were an OA, to be extremely proud of.
OA U16 Contributor