High five for clinical OEs
Old Elthamians produced one of their best performances of the season so far to record an emphatic five-try victory over Caldy at College Meadow.
Old Elthamians 34 Caldy 7
It was OEs’ biggest winning margin of the campaign and they were thoroughly good value for the bonus point victory which extended their unbeaten run in National One to seven games.
Aside from a bright opening spell by the visitors which saw them take an early lead, the suffocating Elthamians defence and impressive line speed, which has been such prominent features of their performances this season, effectively snuffed out the lively Caldy back-line as an attacking threat.
More impressive still was OEs’ execution with the ball in hand and game management, significantly improved on the Cambridge display the previous week, which ensured they attacked in the right areas of the field and were clinical in punishing Caldy errors.
It was the visitors, however, who made the brighter start and took an early lead with a penalty try after only nine minutes. A kick ahead down the blindside saw Caldy wing Nick Royle win the race to the loose ball and as he gathered and attempted to off-load inside him, Elthamians full-back Charlie Dockery knocked the ball down trying to intercept the pass.
Referee Dan Parrot had no hesitation in running between the posts for the penalty try and showed the unfortunate Dockery a yellow card for good measure.
It was to be the last time that Caldy would trouble the scoreboard, however, as Elthamians took a firm stranglehold on proceedings for the remainder of this entertaining encounter.
Although the visitors enjoyed their share of possession and enjoyed an advantage at scrum time, they were harried and hassled to distraction at the breakdown with the back row trio of Ben King, Hamish Barton and Harry Ledger outstanding in and around the fringes of ruck and maul.
Once OEs opened their account on 13 minutes when the impressive Alex Brown jumped highest to collect Tom White’s cross-field kick and then feed James Golledge to race over for a well constructed try, they never looked back.
Dockery scored his third try in as many games when he dived over from close range following a succession of drives from the forwards and then more good work from Golledge and Brown down the right, to give the home side a 12-7 half-time lead.
In the corresponding fixture last season, the Old Boys produced a similarly strong first half performance but were then put under the cosh for the majority of the second period and were left hanging on to the victory for dear life.
There was to be no repeat on this occasion, however, as Elthamians simply continued where they left off after the interval. They quickly added a third try on 43 minutes from replacement George Messum after a bullocking run up the middle from No.8 Ben King and an off-load to Dom Lespierre who supplied the scoring pass.
When the industrious Brown battered his way over in the left-hand corner on 52 minutes following slick interplay from Dockery and Kieran Moffat, Elthamians had the bonus point and were in control, leading 24-7.
Ollie Claxton took over kicking duties from the injured White and he added a 66th minute penalty before replacement scrum-half Rhys Morgan put the seal on a clinical Elthamians performance when he darted over from a driven lineout on the edge of the Caldy 22, 11 minutes from the end.
Tries: Golledge 13 Dockery 29 Messum 43 Brown 52 Morgan 69
Cons: White 30 44 Claxton 70
Pens: Claxton 66
Tries: Penalty try 9
Old Elthamians: Dockery, Lespierre, Golledge, K Moffat, A Brown, White, Claxton; L Brown, Morris, North, Hosking, Kovacic, Ledger, Barton, King. Replacements: Scutt, Rudland-Thomas, Messum, Morgan, Perkins.
Caldy: Hayes, Royle, Roberts, Barlow, Hibberd, Barker, Jones; Whittaker, Stagg, O’Donnell, Gerrard, Sanders, Collister, Davidson, Dickinson. Replacements: Ridgway, Salisbury, Othuha, Cartmill, Vasey.
Referee: Dan Parrott
Half-time: Old Elthamians 12 Caldy 7
Star man: Fred Hosking (Old Elthamians)