Derby Delight for OEs
A strong second half performance helped Elthamians to an impressive four-try victory over local rivals Beckenham on Sunday.
Beckenham 0 Old Elthamians 24
OEs made the short trip to Balmoral Avenue for what promised to be a tough fixture with both sides fielding six county players in their line-up. With three former Beckenham players in the Elthamians side, it had all the ingredients to be an intense and exciting game.
Elthamians made three changes to the starting line-up with Becci Sheene returning in place of the injured Lauren Seakins at prop, Becky Smith coming into the second row with Poppy Branch moving to the back row to replace Jasmine Leota. In the backs Anneka Willis made her first OEs start on the wing replacing Clair Melville-Brown.
It was OEs who made another bright start with fly-half Helen Harris combining with Willis up the left flank when a knock on halted proceedings. The visitors kept the pressure on and were awarded a penalty try on seven minutes when scrum-half Katie Dootson was high tackled whilst in the process of scoring. It was the first time OEs had taken the lead in a league game this season.
However, this sparked a Beckenham onslaught which would last for half an hour as the home side used their strong ball-carrying forwards to good effect. The Elthamians defence stood firm and when the ball did go wide wingers Willis and Andy Birchall snuffed out the threat.
Beckenham did have their chances to score but last gasp tackles saw the ball knocked on over the line and OEs turned round at half-time leading 7-0.
The second half was a different story, however, as it was Elthamians who were now putting together multiple phases with locks Charley Mitten and Becky Smith making big gains with the ball in hand.
The OEs back line was now looking increasingly dangerous with centres Emily John and Georgia Gray causing problems on the front foot and full-back Amy Allebone making some jinking returns.
The breakthrough came on 54 minutes after sustained pressure in the 22, the ball was moved wide to John who arced round the defence to go over in the corner.
With just over 10 minutes remaining, Willis received to ball in space and she out-stripped the Beckenham defence from 30 metres out to go over in the corner.
In the closing moments, Elthamians produced an excellent phase of off-loading and inter-play which saw Birchall go over for OEs’ fourth score on 78 minutes, Courtney Harvey adding the conversion to put the seal on an impressive victory.
Old Elthamians: Allebone, Birchall, Gray, John, Willis, Harris, Dootson, Goodwin, Rukin, Sheene, Mitten, Smith, Walkin, Branch, Harvey. Replacements: Black, Durman, Penfold, Gelman, Potter, Chenery.