After racking up 109 points in their first two Zoo Shield Two games, the Men’s 1sts came down to earth with a bump on a miserable, wet early October day and had to make do with a losing bonus point.
Ealing began brightly, collecting from their own kick-off and immediately putting the visitors under pressure. Fly-half Ciaran Poynter slotted a penalty to reflect the early advantage, but OA responded well, showing ferocity in defence and impressive control of a retreating set scrum, marshalled by former Men’s 1st No 8 Alfie Hill. With 10 minutes gone OA opted for a scrum when awarded a penalty near the Ealing line and worked the ball out to the wing, but scored from short range. The conversion hit the outside of the upright, leaving the score at 5-3. Whenever Ealing threatened to break through the visitors’ defence their efforts came to naught due to determined tackling and a series of knock-ons in the wet conditions, and Albanian stretched their lead with a second try. From a penalty the OA forwards forced their way over, leaving the half-time score at 10-3.
With the advantage of the elements in the second half and with just one converted try needed to draw level, Ealing failed to add to their meagre total, and indeed the entire second period remained pointless. Both sides had chances to add to their score, but as in the first half knock-ons and wrong options at crucial times when in sight of the OA’ line left Ealing ruing their missed opportunities, while OA will have been delighted by their resolute display. As the clock ran down Ealing narrowly missed with a penalty attempt that would have brought them within four points, and after a spilt pass in a desperate last assault on their line, Albanian were delighted to hoof the ball into touch to end the game.
Next Saturday, 13 October, the Men’s 1sts make the short journey to the Athletic Ground to take on high-flying Richmond Normans.
Team: Kadeem Collins, Chris Joyce, Harry Robbins, John Worthington (c), Devis Acellam, Nyall Wake, Alex Turton, James Wilson, Morgan Jones, Ciaran Poynter, Afzaal Mir, Vinnie Berrington, Zack Godfrey, Chris Rose, Harrison Slater
Replacements: JP Hoban, Andrew Barton, Matt Donnelly, Harry Vidler, James Booth