OA's defeated by Heathfield
OA's set piece struggles proves costly
This week Old Alleynians were on the road, away to Heathfield and Waldron RFC. After last week’s defeat, Old Alleynians were looking for a positive response and the boys did show good improvement in many areas. This however, did not stop Heathfield and Waldron ultimately coming away with a 24-15 win, with the OAs failing to be clinical in key moments and their scrum struggling throughout. Some encouragement must be taken though, as there were many moments in the game where OAs showed potential for what could be as the season unfolds.
With last week’s loss on the mind OAs started with real intensity, collecting their own kick-off and then spending the first 5 minutes of the game in the Heathfield and Waldron half. The team looked comfortable in their structure and forwards and backs interlinked well. As OAs neared the whitewash, a loose offload lead to a turnover and Heathfield and Waldron were able to clear their lines. A penalty then given away by OAs saw Heathfield and Waldron kick for touch, Heathfield and Waldron used their line-out to start a string of pick-and-goes and short pop passes to their forwards to batter their way toward the OA tryline. Heathfield and Waldron’s superior size allowed them to bundle the ball over the line and despite protestations from many OAs that the ball had been held up, the referee blew his whistle for a try. As the players picked themselves up from around the ball it appeared that there was truth in the OA claims, with the ball secured atop Will Beasley
’s chest, the referee however did not reverse his call. Try awarded and converted 7-0.
OAs responded well and a few minutes of possession and pressure resulted in a penalty awarded in OAs favour. OAs took the opportunity for points and Ed Nethersole
took the 3. 7-3.
Heathfield and Waldron took the restart, which saw them knock the ball on into their own player resulting in a penalty for OAs on the half way line, a kick to touch and subsequent phase play gave Will Beasley
the chance to storm over the line to give the lead to OAs. Try converted 7-10.
With momentum with OAs and pressure building, the Heathfield and Waldron centre in a moment of frustration performed a late tackle on Ed Nethersole
after he had kicked the ball, Yellow card. OA’s opted to kick for touch, providing a line-out in the Heathfield and Waldron 22 with one play remaining in the half. The line-out, thrown straight by Phil Dibble
with pin point accuracy was called not straight by the referee, much to the confusion of all on the field, the Heathfield and Waldron coach even remarking that the Phil Dibble
had been hard done by. Half time.
With Heathfield and Waldron still down to 14 men at the start of the second half it was paramount that OA take hold of the advantage in the form of points. This sadly, was not to be, with a few wayward kicks, lost scrums and handling errors seeing Heathfield and Waldron hold out for the duration of the sinbin. Not conceding during this period proved a huge morale boost for the Heathfield and Waldron team enabling them to step up a gear. Conversely, in what frustratingly is becoming a running theme of the season, the OAs level dropped after the first 10 minutes of the second half. OAs were now subjected to extreme pressure for the next 20 minutes with Heathfield and Waldron’s dominant scrum preventing OAs from getting a handle on the half, even an interesting up-and-under from season debutant Ethan Allen
did not help the OA plight. The pressure was ultimately converted into points, with two trys coming around the 65 minute mark. Both converted 21-10.
With 5 minutes remaining, spotting an overlap, OAs tried to run the ball out of their own 22. But, with a Heathfield and Waldron player down with cramp and the physio on the field, the referee blew up for the safety of the player. The referee opted to restart with a scrum OA ball, the OA scrum difficulties continued and they conceded a penalty in kicking distance of the posts. 24-10.
The final minutes of the game finished with OAs showing the same intensity they had shown in the first half of the game. Playing touchline to touchline and recycling the ball efficiently OAs were able to exploit the tired stretched Heathfield and Waldron defence, culminating with Ed Nethersole
seeing an overlap and put Rich Brown
in for a try, in what proved to be the last act of the game. Not converted, final score 24-15 Heathfield and Waldron.
MoM was Alasdair Henderson for his excellent running with ball in hand and his willingness to put his body on the line.