After a high-scoring, bonus point win for OCs against 2nd in the league Hove at Horn Park the previous week, the team were full of confidence for their trip around the South Circular to Old Alleynians.
With the league in full-swing, the team found themselves 2nd in the division with full focus on taking their A-game over to OAs in order to keep the pressure on top of the league Haywards Heath. The team saw a few changes to personnel, with AG in for absent Dan Wood in the forwards, and the return of hot-stepping wingers Max Collett and Chris Harris in the backs (yes, Chris finally bought back Trev, fine pending). Weather conditions were not the worst, but on the contrary a boggy, cut-up pitch indicated playing free-flowing elaborate Rugby could prove more difficult than the norm.
As the first-half begun, it was clear that OAs were ready to make a statement to the rest of the league, by bringing the game to OCs in a fast-paced fashion. Although both offences were showing glimpses of pace and skill, it was fair to say that the Away side did not start anywhere near the standards they set. A surprising amount of space on a relatively small pitch saw OCs getting success across the gain-line when shifting the ball wide, with quick ball from Josh and Jack seeing Goose and Collett linking up well on the overlaps. However, a period of ill-discipline from OCs saw the Home team gain some ground off the boot and quick-penalties. The first points of the game stemmed from strong running from OAs accompanied by missed tackles on the defensive side. Unconverted try, 5-0.
Old Colfeians knew that they had to step-up their physicality and discipline if they were going to be able to turn the game on its head. However, shortly after the first try another penalty was conceded within kickable distance from the posts. A successful kick from OAs adding points on the board, 8-0 to the home side. Old Colfeians knowing the performance thus far was far from their best meant frustrations started to flare with OAs growing in confidence and belief that the game was theirs. This frustration saw yet another penalty in the oppositions favour, once again kickable seeing the deficit increase to 11-0.
As the first half was creeping to an end, a few strong words under the posts from Fletch and Chris O’Malley were what was needed. The boys knew that their game needed tightening up in addition to a massive improvement on the basics or the opposition could easily run away with it. After conceding, a great kick-off from Jack Potter saw OCs win a lineout just outside the opposition 22 – now time for the power and skill of the forwards to come into hand. With a couple of minutes to spare before the 40 was up saw a rolling maul that the opposition pack could simply not handle. Hard work saw Chris O’Malley go over for an OCs first try, subsequently converted by Potts. 11-7 half-time.
After the boys had re-grouped at the break, they knew there surely was only to be improvement. This improvement was quickly executed in the form of another rolling-maul from the OAs 22, again too much for the home team to deal with as Chris O went over for his second of the game, yet again converted by Potter. This try early into the second half saw the boys take the lead to 14-11. The next period of the game saw some tough physical battles, with OAs managing to keep OCs strong runners AOM and Dan Hepden at bay. Yet another combination of strong running and offloads to support runners saw the Home side break the OCs momentum with 20 minutes to play. 18-14.
Substitutions in the form of Dele, Bill and the return of Este were always going to have an impact. The match very much in the balance, Old Colfe’s found themselves in the oppositions 22, looking to do what they had done to Gravesend back in September. As they entered last play the Away side knew they had to go for it. Quick ball swung left saw a double miss—pass executed by Jack which was well taken by Este, showing his pace and power as he went round the OAs defence to score in the corner to make it 18-17. Game over.
Although the team knew they were far off their usual standards, to get the win in that manner and conditions was a fantastic result, with Angus Dalgleish receiving MOTM. The victory was OCs 7th in a row, with confidence remaining high as they move into December. Next week see’s the return of Gravesend at Horn Park in the Intermediate Cup as the league has a week off.