OA's Let Their Lead Slip
By Richard Garrett
It was a chilly but clear November’s Saturday, it had been a few weeks between fixtures and the autumnal warmth the OA’s enjoyed away at Pulborough was markedly absent on this particular afternoon. The winds carried a frosty bite left from the night before.
No better setting for what the OA’s faithful knew was sure to be a heated match against local rivals, Beckenham. A side that many of us know all too well, in possession of some athletic backs and chunky forwards they have been a constant sticking point for our club. Safe to say the OA’s were up for it, at the starting whistle, decked out in boxfresh white away strip, the lads were reminiscent of greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start. The opening minutes were physical but cagey, a Beckenham pen for a breakdown infringement allowed Henry Dewing to send the ball deep into Beckenham turf, a well executed line out and strong phase play resulted in another ping for not releasing in front of the Beckenham posts, which was dealt with cleanly by Henry Dewing, 3-0. An aerial battle then followed, which resulted in another fine line out for OA’s bearing down on the Beckenham end zone, the ball was shipped through hands onto Andy ‘Snakehips’ Conway, who snuck past the Beckenham backline and under the posts, with Dewing looking after the formalities, 10-0, excellent.
Beckenham restarted well but the OA’s dug out a great exit through the boot of Jake Smith, a few phases later and another Beckenham penalty allow Henry to add further 3 to his tally. After another five minutes of intense play Beckenham found themselves in a good position, some lapse defending allowed their spud-like #3 to get points on the board, 13-7.
After another few minutes Beckenham found themselves nearing our line, buoyed by a few questionable pens, their 15 managed to sneak past again, converted to put the home side a whisker in front just after the 30 minute mark. The rest of the first half was a set piece battle, with the OA’s maintaining a narrow edge yet failing to add points. We went into the break with the game very much in the balance, yet disappointed to have squandered the early advantage.
The second half began much as the first had ended, penalty count rising on both sides and a lot of set piece play. A contact lens gone walkabout was wreaking havoc with Josh Wachman’s depth perception, leading to an unfortunate trio of knock-ons, stifling the flow of the game. Yet more penalties for not releasing allowed Beckenham over the line again after some well worked offloads. This typified the second half, with consistent infringements making a tough job even harder for the OA’s, culminating in a yellow card for Harry Rix. Beckenham gradually began to turn the screw, even though Henry Dewing managed to scratch back another try with a clever interception, it was not enough. As the game drew to a close, the home side ran over another couple to close the game off, final score 31-18 to Beckenham.
In a game of very fine margins, it came down to passing accuracy, discipline and physicality. Things for the OA’s to target ahead of a big game at home against Dartfordians in early December.