Following an outstanding victory against table topping Old Verulamians, The Onions were determined to back up this up.
Following an outstanding victory against table topping Old Verulamians, The Onions were determined to back up their fine performance with another victory. It wouldn’t be easy though, as they welcomed high flying Welwyn to The Marshes; a team unbeaten in their previous six league outings and sitting second in the table, just one point off top.
The game started at a frantic pace, and early signs were ominous for Old Street when on the five-minute mark, following some neat offloading and quick thinking by the Welwyn scrum half, our visitors scored the first try of the day to give them a five-point lead.
Seemingly un-phased, Street immediately re-gathered possession of the ball and began to string together some phase play, with powerful carries from No.8 Colm Goode and lock Leod Ballantine getting us on the front foot.
Following this pressure, Welwyn infringed at the back foot and we were awarded a penalty which was slotted by the ever-able-and always happy- Eoin ‘Ojo’ Fitzpatrick. On the 15-minute mark the Onions found themselves with another three-point opportunity after our dominant pack, led up front by 80 minute men Connor Osborne and Luke Wilson, forced a penalty which Ojo knocked over with ease.
More possession led to more pressure from Old Street with metres being made on the outside of our opponent’s narrow defence, with notable incisions this time from Gary Hoban (sorry, I know) and centre Rory Barton. As we neared the Welwyn line we resorted to some old school head down rugby, and after solid moves around the base of the ruck from hooker Will Gilgrass and Pip Bhol (great name), the pressure eventually told when our own ‘Peaky Blinder’ scrum half Neil Pittaway, touched down close to the posts for a seven-point score.
Any thoughts of a comfortable 13-5 lead were eradicated on the 27 minute mark when Welwyn ruthlessly exploited a one man overlap to hit back with an unconverted try.
It was now firmly the turn of Welwyn to exert pressure of their own and towards the end of the half, following a breakdown infringement from the Onions, Welwyn put the ball into the corner. The resulting lineout saw them awarded another penalty and it was at this point that Gary Hoban (if he hadn’t secured it already simply by turning up) secured his Dick of the Day status. As the Welwyn 9 went to take the penalty quickly, Gary calmly knocked the ball from his hands.. right in front of the referee. He was swiftly yellow carded and Welwyn elected to scrum; with both Hoban and Ballantine on the sideline at the time, Welwyn were able to push us back over the line and score giving Welwyn a slender but valuable 15-13 lead as the half time whistle blew.
With only 14 on the pitch at the start of the second half, Old Street could’ve been forgiven for starting cautiously. This fortunately wasn’t the case, as the Onions came out all guns blazing and immediately began to punch holes in the Welwyn defence. After plenty of front-foot play, the ball was played quickly from Pittaway, through Ojo and into the hands of the dangerous Rory Barton, who exploited an indecisive defence to finish well, putting Street back in front at 18-13.
No time was wasted in adding to this, and the third try was scored by everybody’s favourite Old Street player. I am of course NOT referring to mercurial Frenchman Geoffroy Auddoset, I’m referring to the blue.
A thing of beauty.
Geoffroy said the only thing he ever says on the pitch, ‘bleu!’ and ran that perfect, shallow, in to out line as Ojo held the inside defender and Geoff was in untouched. C’etait magnifique. The tricky conversion was also added by Ojo to give us a healthy 25-13 lead.
Just five minutes later the Onions added their final, bonus point clinching score, and a fine one it was, too. After some more solid hard yards were made in the midfield through the barnstorming Goode and the industrious Jonny ‘two tries’ Horsford, the final carry came through Ojo and following that the ball was whipped expertly from Neil to Neil who played Rory, who set full back Josh Parry free to dot down unopposed in the corner to cap a fine team try. The score was richly deserved by Josh who, alongside wingers Fionn Crowley and Ellis Hockin-Boyers, had attacked with real intent from the back all day.
Fionn actually went close himself in the second half after a well-executed set piece move, but was thwarted by an opponent’s trailing leg which saw him perform a wonderful backflip, landing expertly on his arse.
At 30-15 some may have expected Welwyn to become disheartened or attempt to force the game. To their credit, they did neither and stuck to their guns with some hard and well-structured attacking play. They scored a converted try on the 60-minute mark after some fine play from their pacey 15, and around ten minutes later they added another after piercing a hole in the Old Street midfield from a set piece.
At 30-29 Old Street remained composed and had the chance to extend their lead when a penalty was awarded, unfortunately this was pushed narrowly wide by Ojo. However, Old Street managed to hang on at the end and eventually our fly-half ended things as he launched the ball into touch, to spark some serious relief-and some pretty questionable hugging- from the Onions.
Old Street Rugby 1XV 30 – 29 Welwyn 1XV
Updated 19:33 - 20 Jan 2018 by Lynn Hay