The OPs are currently held together by tape but the squad depth this year is proving vital. With key names such as Djedje, McAteer, Joe Wellings, the Wilkie brothers, Dolan and Ledger all still unable to return to action, preparation was further disrupted by two late drop outs causing a last minute reshuffle. Though it is hard to predict, the OP warm up was very good - focused and accurate and it proved to carry into the game with the OPs taking a 14-0 lead inside 7 minutes. First, Captain Jack Dever bamboozled the defence with multiple dummies and a great side step to glide through and open the scoring. The second try came from the exceptional Barney Wellings, increasingly comfortable and confident on the wing. Barney showed his strength and pace to burst beyond the Diss defence for a fine solo try.
Diss struck back within ten minutes following a sustained period of pressure. A short range try was finally scored to take the game to 14-7 and give Diss belief that they might be able to fight back into the contest. Diss were playing well without really threatening to score, their midfield 10-12-13 were superb throughout with the fly half and 12 showing excellent handling and distribution skills complimented by a hard running centre. The OP defence was proving, more often than not, to be equal to the challenge however and managed to adjust well or scramble to recover when needed. Barney Wellings again showing ridiculous work rate to get back for a crucial interception on OP 5m line. It didn't help that Matt Delargy was forced off with a hamstring injury, though Massimo Casali was excellent coming on as his replacement. As the half wore on, Barney wreaked havoc again on the left wing, beating numerous defenders before passing inside to the supporting Si March to score and a half time lead of 19-7.
Both teams would have seen the first score in the second half as important and it was OPs who quickly added to their lead. Jack Dever scoring a very similar try to his first, scything through the Diss defence before stepping the full back for an excellent score. Much of the second half was played in the middle of the pitch with OPs arguably playing too much rugby, instead of pinning the opposition back, albeit relatively effectively until silly errors halted the attack. Yet another injury disrupted the OPs as Massimo Casali was forced off with the returning Liam Dolan into the back row. The OPs were maintaining plenty of pressure with relentless attacking and decent retention and eventually the defence buckled as the OPs took advantage of an overlap for Cian McBride to slide in for the fifth try following bulldozing runs by David Howe and Liam Dolan. Soon enough, Dever and Barney were again working in tandem for Barney to score again and extent the lead to 36-7.
Diss fought back hard in the final minutes, pushing for another score which they finally achieved on the last play for a final result of 36-14.
The OPs still aren't entirely satisfied with current performances but this was a solid, convincing home win to maintain recent good results. The weekly injuries and unavailability continue to cause problems with the squad looking very thin indeed ahead of next week's fixture, but players will heal and return eventually which is an exciting proposition.
Damo Langley Award Winner: Eloi Durand
Joe Codrington Award Winner: Barney Wellings