After early stalemate in the no man’s land, ORs won a convincing scrum and injury returnee, Jack Baart, made a powerful break into enemy territory, leading to pressure on Tiffin’s line. With no disrespect to the regular 2s players, Jack’s performance did show that there is a considerable step up to the 1stXV. More scrummaging supremacy saw ball moved through the hands and George Croucher make headway, his insertion into the centre, from the blind side wing, creating uncertainty in the opposition defence [Henry Arundell, take note].
Continuing bombardment led to a penalty, which was taken quickly. Seemingly, the threat had fizzled out, however, effective recycling led to Harry Plowman batter through the fly half and cross the line with defenders left in his wake – a well-deserved Green and Blue lead. Lucas Stephens added the two extra points.
From kick off, ORs made progress back towards Ts 22, and a probing kick saw their winger field the ball. George Mitchell, following up, was somewhat fortunate not to receive a card from the referee, but he stuck to 70s Welsh legend Ray Gravell’s mantra: ‘Get the tackle in early, even if it’s late.’ After the game George admitted that he had got confused about the clocks being changed on Saturday night, so working to his timeframe he was actually on point to make the hit.
From the ensuing penalty, we found ourselves back in the defensive zone, and our tackling was put through its paces [Olly Guy, Dan Westley and Jack, in particular, showing the way]. Winning the ball back gave Lucas opportunity to clear our lines, leading to further impressive work – Ed Cox leaping to claim one of many line outs of the day, Jonny Bridges making a good break and Arran Courtney Walker crunching into defenders in his path.
With the interval approaching, Tiffinians again worked towards our line and, despite holding them out for several plays, we succumbed to their pack forcing their way over – half time score 7 – 5.
The second period commenced with continued opposition pressure, leading to a kicked penalty, and the lead switching hands. However, level headedness enabled ORs to work into the ascendancy, continuing to build pressure and put Tiffs on the back foot. A well moved ball almost created a try, and it felt that it would only be a matter of time before we regained control of the scoreboard.
When Ts received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Dan, it inspired us further – a bulldozing run by Harry Smith saw the ball reach Arran, who showed great strength to carry two or three defenders across the line with him.
Further OR force saw Olly make ground and link with Adam Mendoza, who outstripped the defence to score out wide; Lucas struck the conversion sweetly to take the score to 19 – 8.
With time running down, we kept pushing and a cheeky crossfield kick almost gave Arran a second try. It was not quite to be, and the final whistle blew with Reigatians continuing to work hard to add to the three scores already in the bag.
A solid victory, but interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly the team’s general feeling appeared to be, ‘Okay, we won, but this is what we could have done better.’ Several players commented on the opportunities missed to score more points; stalwart front row, Mike Layzell, happy with scrum performance overall, inferred that he would like more intensity to take further control in the set piece; another observation, ‘We won without playing particularly well.’ As a spectator, these are all fair points; as a supporter these are great comments to hear in feedback. It means that we are believing in what we CAN accomplish, not just what we have done for 80 minutes.
Great to have Dom Smith and Nick Whippey back in the fold; again, the blend of youth and experience worked effectively; thanks to Jayden Knights for looking after the Boys from the sideline, to the 1stXV coaching team and to John Baart for the excellent photos; special mention to Lucas for his downing of the post-match Gorilla Snot, imbibed with the ease most fly halves would not be able to match!
Next week will surely see a bigger challenge against Battersea – Steve wants a full turn out at training to build the momentum. It is early days, but there is a feeling bubbling of what could happen this season…
IMAGE: ORs man of the match, Dan Westley, makes another penetrating break.