With the current win streak at Len (7) and a home draw, the lads were brimming with confidence ahead of the Intermediate Cup Second round tie against Gravesend.
Selection saw crowd favourite Dele and
pantomime villain AG paired in the front row. Stable mates Westy and Fred the Vet (real name
Christian) returned to rekindle their modern day second row partnership and
Jordan Guy got a well-deserved start at 6. The only change in the backline saw
sometimes 9,11,15,10 Will Smith get the 14 shirt.
Everyone loves a bit of behind the scenes insight now days, whether it be ‘All or Nothing’ on Amazon Prime or ‘Sunderland Till I Die’ on Netflix. Here’s the in print version from pre game Saturday:
The lads were feasting on the last of the Haribo Starmix and Colin the Caterpillars. Sugar (as he’s called by the players, Andy O’Malley No8) was dry retching in one corner, whilst Ladi and Dan Hepden appeared to have their headphone(s) in, concentrating in another. Then on the order of Captain John Fletcher everyone gathered in a huddle and the 90’s garage tunes were muted. What was to follow was quite remarkable, A sensational game of cliché bingo during the pre match speeches. Highlights included ‘We are the f&%king reigning, defending champions of this cup, take some pride in that’ ‘Start strong’ and the infamous ‘Play our game and they won’t be able to live with us’ Full houses all round!
This appeared to work as OC’s dominated the opening exchanges and after some flowing interplay between the backs and forwards, Ross dotted down in the corner, extra’s converted by Potter (thank god for the new tee), 7-0. However, it wasn’t all going in favour of the home side. Firstly after another lumbering run, leaving attempted tacklers in his wake, Andy O caught a case of the Will Smith’s and went down with a hamstring injury. Then Gravesend scored from a driving maul,7-5. Captain to the rescue, a John the Quad double restored OC’s lead before the break. The first a barrelling run for 7 meters out, taking 3 G’s defenders with him, the second just about touched down from the back of a dominant 5 meter scrum (VAR may have given it, the TMO may have said otherwise…). HT 21-7.
The second half was a scrappy affair with neither side able to maintain much possession. Ladi was introduced shortly after half time and Opta have sent his heat map of the game in for the management to analyse. A big circle can visibly be seen, as within 1 minute of being sent on…. he was then sent off (yellow card), given his marching orders by the ref for a breakdown infringement. Gravesend were able to capitalise and scored in the corner, the extra man telling on the edge, 24-10. A Potter penalty extended the lead to 14, but G’s were not going away without a fight. A late try gave them hope and woke up a few of the OC’s supporters, who foolishly assumed the boys could quietly see the game out, 24-15. However this is how the score stayed and the lads march on to Round 3, a lovely New Year away day to Fullerians.
A good all round team effort, however for his all round work rate and multiple turnovers Dan Hepden has the honour of looking after Trev for the week. OC’s welcome Deal and their #scrumclub to Horn Park next week, get down for 2pm.