“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” Never had Dickens’ words rang truer than on a soggy Saturday in early October as Deal and Betteshanger made their way to London for the long-awaited home debut of Old Colfeians. After being blessed with the weather since our first preseason outing the stark reality of what autumn in Blighty is really like was upon us. Constant deluge and irritating wind met OCs as we began our warmup and frustratingly showed no signs of letting off as kick off approached.
Slippery the ball may have been as we kicked off, but OCs hands proved slicker. After a wayward clearing kick from Deal the ball was instantly moved out wide to Alex Verissimo who rounded his man and the full back to go over for a try in the very first minute of the game. This surprising start kicked off what was a pretty dominant and pragmatic first half from Old Colfeians. We absorbed what Deal were presenting in attack with relative ease and looked in control ball in hand. Importantly, we also stayed on the right side of the penalty count. In conditions as wet as these stringing ten phases together was going to be very tricky, and it was. However, due to some ill discipline from Deal we were able to get a lineout close to their line and managing to hit his first lineout of the day your author also guided the driving maul over for our second try. A couple of penalty kicks were exchanged but OCs found themselves once again five metres out with a lineout. Cue Sam Wallis, who upon landing with the ball from the lineout and looking to set a maul, then realised that his path to the line had opened like the Red Sea, why exactly still escapes me, and allowed Sam to amusingly stagger backwards over the line for the try. Having just Moonwalked over for our third try and commanding a sixteen-point lead OCs knew that more of the same would see a comfortable victory in the second half. But the universe moves in mysterious ways.
OCs kicked off and some weak tackling allowed a charge from Deal’s number eight to advance into our half. After a short back and forth Deal had the ball from a set piece just inside our half and a brilliant line from their full back sliced through a hole in our defensive line and under our posts. At this point there was certainly a momentum shift and Deal were in the ascendency. A penalty kick to Deal allowed them to cut the lead to six points with OCs seemingly unable to keep hold of the ball or leave our own half. A second half even an unconditional rugby purist would struggle to enjoy continued with the rain and wind battering OCs must like the reinvigorated Deal side. A held-up try was the only reason Deal didn’t take the lead as OCs cleared their lines only to find themselves back in trouble again as Andy O’Malley was lost to the sin bin, I’d argue harshly, for sacking a driving maul. With seven forwards for the remainder of the game OCs defensive task only became more daunting. Poor Tom Rameaux had to leave the field with a nasty cut on his forehead and with that it seemed that OCs, much like Tom’s boyish good looks, were done for. But everyone’s favourite physio Dele Agorioge was back on and adding his not inconsiderate bulk to our seven-man scrum OCs were able to withstand the pressure and clear our lines and hang on for the victory. Some petulant handbags ensued on the final whistle from two frustrated teams to end on a sour note, but handshakes were exchanged, and the two teams rushed inside to ‘baggsy’ some hot water in the showers. The club’s PR team love all 3 sides at home, but they somehow never mention the showers…
A pretty forgettable day for Old Colfeians that we’ll take a lot of learnings from both in how we play and how we conduct ourselves. Both needed to be a bit smarter on Saturday. Alas, that is three wins to begin the season and we’re still yet to put together a full eighty-minute performance, so signs are encouraging! Please make sure you head down for the next OCs home game in a couple of weeks when we return. Whether or not the surreal jazz trio returns… the jury’s out.
Author: Chris O’Malley