After a good result on the road last week Old Colfeians were hoping to repeat this as we head off on a shorter but much more congested road to one of our numerous local rivals, Old Alleynians. A painfully slow venture through Catford, up Forrest Hill and past the butt of every juvenile joke, The Horniman Museum, was between us and fifteen men waiting to beat us up. This, after 35 minutes of bumper-to-bumper traffic, sounded quite agreeable by comparison.
A crisp warm up and we were out on the field. Much to the amusement of those who witnessed it the returning Dan Dunbar had come out with his match shirt on backwards and was trotting down to the pitch with a large 6 emblazed on his chest… What a flanker! Jersey reversed and we were ready to go. And go we did. The very first kick off from OCs lead to a forced knock-on and we had a scrum on the OA’s 22. A dominant turn from OCs saw a penalty rewarded and a kick to the corner saw OCs set a driving maul destined for the line. However, a bit of a well-played skulduggery from OAs saw them awarded a scrum for the maul being held up and they were able to clear their lines.
OAs began a period of possession using their big ball carriers to good effect. After some ill discipline they were able to keep us pinned in our own half for most of the opening quarter. OCs managing to clear our lines only to be back in trouble again. A shaky start to the game from OCs where possibly the only highlight came in the form of a slick backs move which allowed Estefan Ellis some room to run deep into opposition territory. Some desperate scrambling defence from OAs culminated in a penalty for Old Colfeians which was nudged into the corner to set up a replay of our 1st minute venture. Unfortunately, we were unbale to convert and once again OAs cleared their lines.
A particularly frustrating first forty minutes was on the cards, OCs knowing they had left potentially three scores out there but in the 38th minute at last the game came alive. Off a scrum the ball was spun wide to youngster Ollie Burkett who made the half break before offloading inside to the charging Alex Verissimo who stuck out and arm and took it to the house from forty-odd metres. Potts added the extras and half time was basically upon us.
The second half did not begin brightly. Some fumbled hands allowed OAs a kick to the corner and from the resulting scrappy play on our line were able to cross for their opening score. The next ten or so minutes will not be in the season highlight real. Some loss of focus crept in and OCs saw themselves concede two soft tries the latter being a fifty-metre run in from the opposition second row. A shame, as our defence when executed correctly, had seemed pretty comfortable up to this point. 17-7 down but not beaten yet. We knew that with a little bit of composure we could overcome this deficit. However, if you look up ‘composure’ in the dictionary you are unlikely to find a passage reading “throw the ball into your mate’s face when trying to set a driving maul” but these are the rollercoaster moments that make amateur rugby unpredictable and enthralling to the masses! That being said, shortly afterwards we were able to secure a penalty in the opposition half and kick to corner which allowed us to rumble over for a 5-pointer. A good exit allowed us to set up the club’s first ever 50-22! This new rule change meaning a kick from your own half bouncing into the opposition 22 allows you to regain possession. Unfortunately, we once again were unable to capitalise and were sent packing.
At this point the time was ticking away from Old Colfeians who needed a converted score to win with only a handful of minutes remaining. But we always said that we only needed one chance. This is an odd mantra to adopt having just blown four or five chances, but one must #belive. A penalty to OCs allowed us to kick just inside the OAs 22 to set up a lineout. With our usual get out of jail free card, the driving maul, having been scuppered pretty much all day we needed a plan B. I’m not quite sure what happened next but all I know the ball fell to your author some 18 metres from the opposition line. Great support from John Fletcher and Andy O’Malley allowed a couple of dummies and for me to go over for the try more untouched than an egg sandwich at a buffet. Potts calmly added the extras which took us to a two-point lead. A minute and a half remained, and all OCs had to do was see the game out. After a line break from OAs Old Colfeians had to empty the tank with a goal line defensive effort with Bill Ramdhan coming up with a massive turnover on the ground to allow OCs to clear their lines. Unfortunately, after a well secured lineout an offside was awarded to OAs and their kicker stepped up to win it from 50m out. He missed. FT 19-17 to Old Colfeians. Mooted celebrations followed as we all knew we’d gotten away with one it seemed. Too many opportunities squandered, and soft tries conceded. But a win’s a win. MOTM went to Skipper Angus Dalgleish for solid defensive work and steadying the midfield all game. Next week we make the long-awaited return to Horn Park to face Deal and Betteshanger. All three Old Colfeian’s teams due to be playing at home so please come down for what promises to be a great day!
Author: Chris O’Malley