Elthamians' unbeaten run ended
The league leaders' impressive start to the season came to a sudden halt on Sunday as they were overwhelmed by an early Old Albanians onslaught.
Old Elthamians 12 Old Albanians 36
OEs made four changes for the visit of Albanians. With only one recognised prop available, Bex Goodwin moved from loose to tighthead with Lauren Seakins, normally a hooker coming in at loosehead. Sophie Durman replaced injured Beccy Smith in the second row following a strong debut against Hampstead. Jasmine Leota, a new squad addition who captained Wellington Samoa and represented New Zealand Universities this year, made her long awaited debut packing down at blindside flanker with Ciara Walkin moving to the bench.
In the back line Ciara Potter replaced Andy Birchall on the wing, while on the bench flanker Beccy Penfold made her long awaited return from a knee injury picked up in the last league game of last season. Recently signed scrum half Elliane Gelman, formerly of Wasps, Henley and Oxford University among her former clubs, also made her league debut.
OEs are still settling at this level and the game started in the same vein as their previous four league fixtures when they found themselves seven points down after only six minutes.
The big OAs pack dictated the flow and pace of the game and didn't allow OEs any time to get into their stride. For the first time this season, the Elthamian scrum was also an area of concern as they were shunted backwards and surrendered possession.
On 14 minutes a flowing move enabled the visitors to go over again out wide and double their lead.
With just 20 minutes gone, things went from bad to worse for the home side as makeshift prop Seakins withdrew with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Alex Baron making her league debut in only her second game of rugby!
The Albanian onslaught continued and with just over 30 minutes on the clock, they added another two well-worked tries and had taken a commanding 24-0 lead.
With just two minutes of the half remaining, Leota received a ball in midfield from a short lineout and burst through four tackles to take Elthamians into the OAs' 22 for the first time. A couple more phases and carries from the pack and Leota was on hand to pirouette through the last tackle to go over for a try on her debut.
True to form OEs started the second half strongly and pinned OAs in their 22. A charge down from a five metre scrum resulted in scrum-half Katie Dootson pouncing on the loose ball for OEs' second try on 45 minutes, Courtney Harvey adding the extras.
The game swung back and forth for the remainder of the match, but on this occasion Elthamians had given themselves too much of a mountain to climb. Chances came and went but as the game entered the last 10 minutes, it was the visitors who were to put the seal on an impressive performance with two further tries to complete an emphatic win.
Old Elthamians: Allebone, Melville-Brown, Gray, John, Potter, Harris, Dootson, Seakins, Rukin, Goodwin, Durman, Mitten, Leota, Branch, Harvey. Subs: Baron, Gent, Walkin, Penfold, Gelman, Birchall, Willis.