OH returned to Croxdale riding high after two tightly contested victories against Shelford and Chingford who had both come into the league from London and SE Premier and Habs were looking to make it a hatrick against the former National League trio.
OH had plenty of possession in the first 10 mins and the pressure finally told. With a penalty given 5 mins out The Sandersons, OH's answer to the Slag Brothers from Wacky Racers, called for a scrum. Habs established their set piece dominance and Tommy the Gunn continued his try scoring form by belly flopping onto the ball. Surman, enjoying an appearance at 10 and standing in for last week's drop goal hero, was unfortunate with the extras.
At this point it looked ominous for Brentwood with Habs dominant at the set piece. However, against the run of play they struck back after a break in midfield and some strong offloading the Brentwood 8 cruised under the sticks. Much to the surprise of all attending with a roar of defiance Harry Briffit charged down the conversion. This inspired the team into a swift response with Monkey burrowing his way over the try-line moments later down the other end to restore Habs lead.
Unable to capitalise on this momentum - ill discipline saw Habs spend most of the rest of the half camped in their own 22 and despite some resolute defending on their own line the pressure finally told with Brentwood dotting over in the corner. Not wanting to break the tradition of coming from behind at half time OH conceded another try under the sticks for a HT score of 19-12 to Brentwood.
It was a frustrating team talk for the ever eloquent Jonny Whittle who bemoaned the lack of discipline and the need for dominant tackling in the 2nd half to assert their dominance.
However, Brentwood now played with their tails up and struck first in the second half with the opposition 7 cutting a crisp line through a weak arm tackle to extend the lead to 2 scores. The writing was on the wall but OH came roaring back with veteran Mike Marsden slithering his way over the line despite crimson streaming from a cut on his head. With Habs firmly back in the contest the resultant kickoff was spilled and Brentwood re-extended their lead with another try – once again sucking the air out of the OH fightback.
The dick of the day auditions began in earnest and a few candidates threw their hats into the ring. Jay Lad otherwise imperious throughout attempted a cheeky chip that went every way but forward. Soon after new recruit Harvey Taylor dotted down for his first try off the back of a rolling maul which everyone down to Hendon knew had been grounded other than the all-important man with the whistle. A sarcastic tap to the face from the opposition 12 caused the tension to boil over and Harvey hurled the ball in the opposition face in an act of gratuitous violence. Both players were sent to the sin bin but most importantly a potential 5m scrum was reversed to a Brentwood penalty. Brentwood added a further try later to leave Habs 3 scores adrift.
Harry Briffit, unhappy that Brentwood were doing their best to ruin his birthday and keen to drown out the crowds chants of “Bring back Miller!”, dragged Habs back into the contest with a try to bring OH back to within 2 scores and secure the 4 try bonus point. OH knew there was still a losing bonus point to play for and even a stirring comeback but it was not to be; with further chances spurned in the opposition 22 when on another day they may have been scored.
Credit to Brentwood for taking their opportunities but the overwhelming sentiment was one of a missed opportunity and OH will be looking to put things right on the return fixture on the 1st February.
Final Score: 24 - 38
MoM and Author: Tommy 'the Gunn' Arnott