After a disappointing loss away to Dover last week OCs were presented with a good opportunity to bounce back welcoming Haywards Heath (HH) to Horn Park.
With OCs kicking off the match it was obvious the boys wanted to try and right a few wrongs from the previous week immediately putting pressure on the visitors forcing a lineout deep inside the opposition half. A well-executed lineout and some strong carries from Ben Westhead led to Dan Wood scoring the first try of the game a few phases later. Bubble wrapped Ed Livett had the kicking boots for day but missed the opening conversion making it 5-0 to OCs.
OCs took the kick off well and a strong carry from Andy O’Malley once again gave OC’s a good position in the visitors half with OC’s putting the pressure on HH gave away an offside penalty which Ed Livett “popped” over to give OCs a 8-0 lead with about 5 minutes gone and it was looking like it might be a good day for the home supporters at Horn Park.
Unfortunately the first 5 minutes were as good as it was going to get for OCs who failed to clear their lines from the HH kick off. Some direct play following a scrum inside the OC’s 22 allowed the visitors captain to score under the sticks, the try was converted to make it 8-7 to the home side with 10 minutes gone.
The visitors try seemed to disrupt OCs rhythm and the OCs defence struggled to deal with the physical and varying nature of the HH attack. The visitors gained some good field position from a wayward OCs lineout and HH winger who OCs struggled to deal with all afternoon forced his way over in the corner to make it 8-12 to the visitors. OCs absorbed some more HH pressure and some good defensive work meant the scores remained the same at the close of the half.
After what was a poor first half by OC standards the boys came out for the second half looking to be more accurate and build some pressure on the visitors but failed to deliver on either. Within a couple of minutes of the restart OCs were back under the posts again following a try from the visitors other winger, the try was converted to make it 19-8 to the visitors.
After this the home side showed a bit of fight and following some more good carries from Andy O managed to get a penalty with the HH half which was kicked to make the score 11 – 19 leaving the door slightly ajar for OCs to try and get back into the game.
Following more pressure form the visitors OCs managed a turn over deep inside their own half and following some good open play found themselves in the opposition 22 who gave away a penalty which was knocked over to make it 14-19 and open the door for a unlikely second half comeback.
That was as close as it was going to get for OCs with some lacklustre defence and wayward kicking giving the visitors plenty of field position the momentum swung back to HH. Through some quick tap penalties and strong carries from their second row the visitors manged to a final try before the final whistle to gain a bonus point win with the final score 14-26 to HH. Well done to the visitors who claimed their first bonus point win of the season and leapfrogged OCs in the table.
Man of the match for the home side went to Andy O’Malley for some good carries and sound defensive work. In a rare split decision the alacados gave Ben Westhead the bubbly for a solid afternoons work.
Overall it was a frustrating and disappointing game from an OCs perspective who didn’t front up to the challenge posed and will wonder when they can produce an 80 minute performance for the supporters and coaches. Next week OCs welcome Gravesend to Horn Park to try and will be looking to build some momentum before a trip to Farnham in the cup.
Author – Lewis Gunn