OA Match Report
By Paul Wakelin
First Game Ends in Defeat
** Match Report ***
Saturday 22nd September – Old Albanian 5th 24 - 0 Berkhamsted 1st XV
It was a long summer and we’d all missed that big game nervous excitement. First game of the new season in what looks like a challenging league. This was the squad to kick off our 2018/19 campaign;
1.Tim Brickle 2.Sam Cane-Groome 3.Sean Wasley 4.Frazer Harrison 5.Paul Wakelin (Captain) 6.Chris Hickey 7.Angus Tidey 8.Rob Peche 9.Joe Dalton 10.Charles Fidler 11.Ben Brown 12.Lewis Richards 13.Karl Wordsworth 14.Marcus Hanvey 15.Michael Hollington 16.Dan Vials 17. Andrew Meeks 18.Will Griffiths 19.Mictchell Ayres 20.Colin Farenden
The club was hit with a couple of huge hammer blows early in the week. Firstly the news that Cain and Hansard were unavailable for the trip to OA’s and secondly the news that Colin was now available.
Every single player did themselves and this club proud on Saturday. It just wasn’t our day. OA’s are a well-drilled side with some impressive individual flair, and judging by the new faces it looks like they’ve acquired a bit of talent in their back line. The new rules allow for 5 subs each in the league and both squads were at full complement. We had a few players that were either new to the club or settling into unfamiliar positions, so it was going to take time to gel. Combine that with the fact that OA’s had a sizable forward pack, it’s no surprise that this was a challenging fixture. Both teams made numerous early handling errors in the wet conditions, but with just a few minutes on the clock OA’s broke the deadlock with 3 points from the tee.
It could have been worse a couple of minutes later when their 14 broke our defensive line only for Hickey to make a last gap lunge at the ball, successfully ripping it and preventing a certain 7 points. 5 minutes later however OA’s did notch 7 points. Neat hands, ball out wide and a converted touchdown to make the score 10-0 to them. Not unsurmountable, but we knew the task ahead. The score stayed that way for some time and Berko achieved parity in the possession and territory. The forwards were doing their thing. A couple of tasty breaks and offloads from the age defying Saffa and we won all of our own scrums with Groomy hooking well and the props keeping him steady up front. Frazer took every line-out with confidence and poise and the centres saw plenty of possession with Wordy in particular enjoying plenty of ‘crash ball’.
It wasn’t ideal that Alex Ferguson was reffing this game, as OA’s scored in the 46th minute of a 40 minute half. A decent kick and chase from our ex-player Foley saw him touch down to make the score 17-0 at HT.
The Berko defence was proving resolute in the second half and we witnessed some big hits from the likes of Wordy, Wakelin, Foxy and super-sub Meeksy, but unfortunately in the third quarter a slip and a spilled ball led to another OA’s score to make it 24-0 with FT fast approaching. Plenty of positive chat from the players and from coach Stevie D on the side-lines saw us peg back OA’s and create some opportunities of our own. A break by Joe, and some neat interchanging between him and Angus eventually saw the ball get out wide to Marcus and Foxy who very nearly combined to score in the corner. Just wasn’t meant to be.
Late on OA’s missed an easy three points from the tee and the score remained at 24-0, and that was to be the final score. Not a landslide by any means but it was a shame that we didn’t notch a score of our own after all our efforts. But that’s rugby for you.
Give it time and this squad will achieve great things. That said though, we must never lose sight of who we are and the club we want to be… A family club, built on positivity and camaraderie. Win or Lose, it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Let’s stick together and never forget to enjoy it. Walk / crawl off that pitch with a smile and enjoy a beer or two with your mates.
We had two debutants in the team on Saturday, Lewis Richards and Marcus Hanvey, and both need a mention. Lewis clearly has a great rugby brain, he buys himself plenty of time and looks composed on the ball. Marcus looked more than comfortable playing his first game of senior rugby out on the wing. A couple of big hits and tracked back well.
MotM. It was a tough call. A few players put their hands up. Joe Dalton had a cracking game. Great distribution and great disruption of the oppo ball. Chris Hickey looks settled at 6 and prevented an opposition score with a skilful rip. Captain’s choice for MotM was however Angus Tidey. An energetic and determined performance. Got everywhere and work rate was immense.
DotD – Chris Hickey. For breaking club rule number 1. No kicking !( It was a good kick though).
Thanks to our supporters on the day. Great to see so many injured players rock up to support the boys. Maria Hollington as always, and another dedicated shift in the rain from Penny. Despite the score line we can take a lot of positives from this game. It will be a long season, but I’m confident it will be a successful one.