Oldfield Complete the Vase & Promotion Double
After a long season with lots of "Highs" and very few "Lows" Oldfield deservedly confirmed their promotion with a hard fought victory over their Bristol rivals in the Somerset Premier vs Gloucestershire Premier promotion play off.
The scene for the days encounter was set perfectly as both Oldfield and St Mary’s Old Boys ran onto the field through a tunnel of noise created by Oldfield's Youth Players.
Both sides desperate for victory played out a very tense but enjoyable game at Shaft Road, watched by a record crowd on a warm spring afternoon.
The game itself was decided by the boots of the two team’s kickers suggesting that this, was a dour contest but this couldn't be further from the truth. It was indeed an entertaining contest to watch if you weren't too wracked by nerves. Both sides were looking to secure quick ball and move the ball wide with exciting and skillful players across the pitch.
Oldfield and St Mary’s played the same system, so it was a chess game to see who could break free and all in all, it was the home side that played with more freedom but they were however, met by an exceptionally well drilled defence.
St Mary’s went ahead in the 15th minute with a penalty some 25 meters out almost in front of the posts, but Oldfield then forced a penalty and it was duly converted by Joe Russell, who had flown back mid way through his holiday in Spain to play in the match.
St Mary's went close twice but were forced into losing the ball forward as they met with an aggressive Oldfield defence but eventually, they went ahead again in the 24th minute with their second penalty.
Just three minutes before the break Joe Russell converted a second penalty to make the scores even at half time.
The second half was played out in much the same vein as the first with both sides making interchanges trying to find that breakthrough.
Oldfield were now controlling territory and the game but again, they were met with an attritional defence who weren't willing to give an inch. However, the visitors were penalised for going in at the side of the ruck in the 55th minute and Joe Russell obliged with what was to be the last three points of a very long season.
St Mary’s continued to try and play a positive game and their replacement second row made some good charges through the middle but was continuously thwarted.
Some great tactical interchanges by Oldfield’s Director of Rugby Chris Lilley, was probably the only difference on the day as the game was nip and tuck throughout, with two good sides playing a very similar brand of rugby, which ended 9-6 to Oldfield.
The match itself was played with great sportsmanship from both players and supporters and we wish St Mary’s Old Boys every success for the new season ahead.
Club captain Ollie Hayes became the first captain in the Clubs history to secure the 'double' and only just had time to shake hands before being whisked off to the airport for a delayed flight abroad.
Earlier in the day, on behalf of the club, Oldfield organised some of it’s players, Jake Mole, Mark Moxham, Taelor Newport and Callum Mole, to raise a collection fund as supporters passed through the car park gates in support of St Mary’s Old Boys club captain, Liam O’Keeffe, who suffered a serious spinal injury over a year ago, playing for the club that he loved for 21 years.
We were delighted to have raised £273.74 for Liam’s recovery fund and Oldfield’s President Mark Butt handed over the collection to St Mary’s President, Ken Squire who said, “Thank you for your kindness and hospitality and please thank everyone involved in collecting a magnificent £273.74 towards Liam’s recovery fund I will ensure that the family receives it next week.”
Oldfield now looks forward to celebrating at their sell out Club Dinner & Awards on Friday 5th May, which will be attended by Bath Club Captain Guy Mercer and guest Speaker England International Chris Jones.
Match Report by Ben Gillow
Match Photos by Donna Bunton.