The OPs took on Grasshoppers at their excellent ground in local Isleworth. The OPs had a large squad to choose from again, with 27 featuring in the squad - providing valuable game time for players who missed the Ealing game. With some boys running late from work, there was some shuffling of the starting team with 18 year old Kimen Nyam coming onto the wing for his first OP start and Mo Akbar into the 12 shirt.
The OPs started slowly. Grasshoppers got the ball into OP territory and scored inside two minutes. A good line from the hard running Grasshoppers 13 caught a weak shoulder in defence and he cruised in, a valuable message for the OPs that Grasshoppers were determined to upset the side in the league above. On the whole, in that first third of the game the OPs reacted fairly well, maintaining plenty of possession and creating a few chances that they couldn't quite convert. Soon enough, their first try came with some opportunism by 18 year old Tomek Tsang who kicked on a loose ball and dived on it for the score. He had a very composed performance throughout, stepping up to senior men's rugby with some ease so far. With a couple of good line breaks wasted, the OPs will feel they left some points out there, though at times in the first third they were also a bit lateral which prevented them from being as clinical as they'd have liked. James Booth added to the scoring next, scooping up an error in midfield to race in for the away side's second try.
In the second third the OPs started to feel a bit more comfortable and had some nice moments of play though will, again, feel they should have been more clinical. Fred Tucker added the OPs third try, well deserved for a strong attacking performance from the full back who linked well with the outside backs. Will Taylor nudged the conversion from the touchline. This middle third was to see two more tries. A very good lineout led to a well set-up driving maul which made it's way in from the 22m line and was scored by 18 year old Luis Gomez Rose who had controlled it well from the back. A pleasing sight given the OPs (as is usually the case) were giving up some size to the opposition. The third try was an excellent executed backs set piece move that saw Chris East score on his return to the club after two years away. A deserved reward for a seriously industrious performance by Chris.
What was meant to be four quarters had started with two quite long blocks beyond the expected 20mins, but plenty of changes were made at the "40" minute mark. It meant the OPs were less cohesive but still showed good energy in defence and some nice individual moments in attack. Aristide Goualin was twice unlucky not to score, once tackled into touch and once unable to hold onto the ball with a clear run in. The OPs final try came through the familiar face of David Wilkie. Dave played a bit last year but had very niggles following his return from Australia. The OPs ran a lovely set piece move and scored a good try with Wilkie bursting through the middle in similar fashion to the Grasshoppers try that opened the game.
It turned out this was to become the final third as Grasshoppers were picking up knocks and didn't want the extra period. The final 10-15 minutes of the game the home side played well, creating a couple of opportunities and scoring an outstanding try up the left wing with some excellent support play and offloads.
The OPs will be pleased overall, another full contact game ticked off and some really good individual performances. The side open their league campaign next weekend away to Harpenden. Weddings and holidays will heavily impact availability but the boys will look forward to the opportunity to throw the ball around and hopefully string together some more positive moments to build upon regardless of how the game goes.
Tries: Tsang, Booth, Tucker, L Gomez Rose, East, Wilkie
Conv: Taylor (3)
Damo Langley Award Winner: Tom Wells
Joe Codrington Award Winner: Tomek Tsang
Djedje, Ridley, J Moore, McAteer, Wells, Ahukanna, Bedlington, J Wellings; Tsang, Taylor, Nyam, Akbar, Booth, East, Tucker.
D Moore, Batt, Lumby, C Gomez Rose, L Gomez Rose, Ozols, McBride, Dolan, D Wilkie, Goualin, Ilube.