The Utilita @Well Hall, Sunday November 19th, KO @ 11.30am
Club faced their toughest test of the season against a well-drilled and physical Old Elthamians side on a blustery day at Well Hall.
In a fiercely contested opening few minutes, Club found an early rhythm, building up several phases of play. Successfully recycling, they were able to move the ball along the line, but, despite some powerful running from, amongst others, Gregor O’Sullivan and Oliver Simpson, Club were met by a resolute defensive effort from a fired up OE’s side. Early exchanges were characterised by tough rucking and counter rucking at a fiercely contested breakdown that would become a feature throughout the game.
Club were ultimately unable to convert early possession into points, eventually seeing the OE’s find decent field position of their own. Despite some strong defence, Club were penalised at the breakdown giving the OE’s time to regroup for the first score of the game.
Subsequent pressure from OE’s resulted in some superb tackling and a strong clearance kick from mercurial fly-half Jonny Ravenscroft with Fintan Jennings and Jameson Morrison chasing up well.
With the talismanic Oliver Simpson off after some brave work at the breakdown, Bear Williams joined the fray. After fifteen minutes the forwards generated yet more pressure through multiple phases, Issac Fitzsimmons working particularly hard at the rucks, allowing Herbie Murray Jones to release several runners.
Marijonas Kaminiskas, Oliver Marnham and Max Odlin Peftibay all made good headway, with the elusive Oscar Benns and the always busy Fintan Jennings displaying some jinking runs and deft footwork. However, Club were agonisingly short of the line yet again due to OE’s seemingly impenetrable defensive wall.
Rolling replacements were made as the physicality began to take its toll, impacting some of the continuity, but never the commitment and skill shown by all. Lorcan Reilly injected some impressive attacking guile as Club continued to apply pressure, almost dotting down for their first score. As the half drew to a close, however, they were beaten by classic counter-attack rugby, as OE’s unleashed some of their huge runners to score a second try, then quickly adding a third seconds before the first half whistle was blown.
An early try from OE’s in the second half saw a score line that didn’t reflect how close the teams were. Club continued to threaten the OE’s line, with Ted Keohane releasing George Woodside who showed some powerful attacking intent, but Club’s big runners were again thwarted by OE’s fearsome defence.
Whilst some signs of tiredness began to creep in, as OE spread the ball skilfully releasing some powerful runners of their own, Club’s pressure was eventually rewarded in the sixth minute of the second half with the ever-explosive Marijonas Kaminiskas touching down for the home side’s first score.
A further two second half scores from OE’s didn’t dimmish Club’s spirit or endeavour and despite some tired legs, Club were able to score a second try as the mighty Oliver Marnham crossed the line, despite the attention of at least three OE defenders.
With a final score of six tries to two, Club were perhaps left to rue some earlier missed chances but can justifiably be proud of a great game well played against an impressive OE’s set up. And importantly they can take some crucial learnings into their next fixture. Bring it on Club!