After a great week of training, Thursday and Friday passed agonisingly slowly as the lads waited anxiously for the email confirming the starting team… the wait continues.
News broke early Friday afternoon that the M20 was closed over the weekend which caused panic in the ranks, as such the meet time was brought forward to 11am (for everyone except Ladi) and the league secretary was notified. Alas, everyone was on time and raring to go at Maidstone RFC for 12pm.
Despite the early arrival the warm up was sharp and the message from Haggis & Luke was clear – deliver on what we’ve worked on all week and they won’t be able to live with us.
The pressure started from the kick off with a good kick chase and charge down from Luke Bailey, this saw OC’s turnover possession and break the line to set up a short passage of phase play before the pressure became too much for the home side who gave away a penalty in front of the sticks, which Potter duly slotted.
The home team had very little to get excited about in a half which OC’s dominated. They looked comfortable in attack as the forwards controlled the contact area and the breakdown whilst MOM Potter’s kicking game out of hand and off the tee was on point as he controlled the tempo of the game as OC’s maintained possession with patience and poise.
OC’s dominance in the scrum and forwards prowess around the park led to first half tries from Estefan, Galey, Chris O’Malley and Berridge before the latter was afforded a 10 minute rest for the heinous crime of not retreating 10 metres from a penalty conceded on the OC’s 5 metre line – which prevented a certain try. The teams went in with OC’s 27-0 up, relishing a well earned breather.
The half time team talk was succinct with the focus on more of the same for the second half. However, a solitary penalty conceded by OC’s in the first few minutes of the half saw Maidstone kick to the corner and benefit in the melee of a sloppy line out, the score now at 27-5.
With Maidstone doing everything they could to build some phases – It didn’t take long for OC’s to wrestle back the momentum as 5 minutes later the home side were back under their sticks following a turnover and some slick handling in the midfield put Livett through a gap outside of his opposite man – who turned like a boat – to see Livett not quite have the legs to finish it off, cue a terrific support line from Andy Howard with a cheeky shimmy (not out of place on Strictly Come Dancing) and a fend to dot down under the posts.
The home side enjoyed their longest spell of possession in the second half as they grew defiant and niggly but OC’s defence stood firm as 8 or 9 phases saw Maidstone advance a mere 5 metres before knocking the ball on under pressure – summing up a tough day at the office for the home team. Potts continued to run the game as Maidstone were pinned back at every opportunity.
The game opened up in the last quarter which saw Luke cross over the whitewash as Berridge regathered his hack through to find himself in behind the defence and bearing down on the fullback, it looked like Berridge would go all the way before he appeared to have hit the same boggy patch that Livett had fallen foul to 15 minutes earlier – as Luke came to his rescue. Some excellent work from the forwards at the line out saw Woody bustle his way over from 5 metres before the ref called time on a good day at the office with the game settled at 5-53 to the visitors.
Strong performances from 1 to 18 as OC’s played for the full 80 minutes in the right areas of the pitch. Shoutouts to the forwards for their dominance up front, not only tearing Maidstone apart in the scrums but their work rate at the breakdown meant Galey consistently had quick, clean ball which provided Potter the platform to control the tempo of the game at 10. Patience in attack saw OC’s notch their highest away points haul this season and discipline in an organised defence saw a record low of penalties conceded which sucked the life out of a Maidstone side who will no doubt be smarting over a heavy home defeat.
A good day at the office for OC’s as the lads applied the Patience, discipline, tempo & work rate themes that we have been concentrating on in training. The focus turns now to 3 big games before the Christmas break as OC’s look to build some momentum – make yourself available and get down to training.