Saturday 7th September saw the Old Haberdashers 1st XV travel to Southend-On-Sea to kick off their 2019/20 season against the Southend Saxons. Old Habs took to the field with a very similar outfit to that which finished the last season however we did welcome some new faces into the mix. Making their debut for Old Habs 1st XV was James Doe in the centers, Paddy Flood on the wing and Harvey Taylor in the back row.
The first half started with very high tempo, and Old Habs were looking very dangerous with the ball in hand. Due to the strong headwind, OH started the first half by keeping the ball fairly tight and only kicking when needed, with our dynamic front three of the Sanderson brothers and Jonny Gatus (player the season last year) getting through a lot of work in the first 20 mins. Southend Saxons struggled to cope with the physicality of the Old Habs early on and it wasn’t long before Josh Downie hit a short line 10 meters out, bouncing the opposition hooker to go over for the first try of the season. Successfully converted by flyhalf Ian McGhee, 7-0 Old Haberdashers.
After starting well, OH struggled to contain the Saxons’ field position given the strong wind and very good kicking from the opposition flyhalf. As a result the rest of the half saw OH camped in their own half for the large part. After a continued period of pressure, Southend managed to find cracks in the Old Haberdasher defense and grabbed an equalizer, 7-7.
Southend gaining momentum kept the pressure on and the gaps started to appear. In a 15 minute period of losing concentration before half time Southend managed to score a further 3 tries, converting 1 bringing the half time score to 24-7 Southend Saxons.
At halftime Jonny Whittle rallied the troops and OH came out firing. The forwards were making the hard yards and the new faces of James Doe and Paddy Flood were linking well with the likes of Conor Michaels and Ian McGhee in the backline. With possession swinging back in OH’s favor the hosts started to crumble. The youthful looking James Clark managed to get over the white wash twice from two dominant five-meter scrums. Special mention goes to the engine room for the afternoon Mike Marsden and Cian O’Riordain. Josh Downie also managed to bag another meat pie giving Old Haberdashers the lead 26-24 with 5 minutes to go.
Unfortunately early season jitters saw OH give away a penalty 30 meters out with 2 minutes left on the clock. Southend’s flyhalf slotted it through the posts to take them in front by 1.
OH marched back to the half way for a quick kick off trying to retain possession for a last chance effort at the Southend try line. Southend fumbled it forwards, re-gathered and went under the sticks for a try without the referee blowing his whistle. Shocked and disappointed OH come away with 1 point from a hard fought entertaining game. Final score Old Haberdashers 26-34 Southend Saxons.