A rain soaked morning cleared to a beautiful afternoon as the Tourists travelled down to Dulwich to face Old Alleynian’s V; only a couple of players short of the 17 expected, the Tourists were able to field a complete side, although admittedly one with little to no experience playing together, and with no subs. Fortunately, about 10 mins before kick-off, OAs 3s turned up and offered players to cover the bench for both sides (Dartfordians cancelling on them at about 1pm). Ping Pong agreed with the ref and the OAs captain that this would be fine, but that we would try to restrict to injuries only.
With OAs dropping the kick-off, the Tourists were able to build an early attacking position, running through good phases and pinning OAs back. Southwark were unable to turn pressure into points however, and after about 10 minutes, OAs cleared and were able to get an attacking scrum. The Tourists also lost their 7 and 10 at this point, with both Harry Sharp and Alex Hatt having to leave the field injured. Corrado (here onwards known as Helicopter) became the latest Southwark player to try his hand at outside half, and a couple of subs were called on from the sidelines. From the scrum, the home side were able to get on the outside straight from first phase, and the OAs right winger scored in the corner. Missed conversion left it at 5-0.
Once again Southwark applied pressure from the kick-off and were able to set up an excellent attacking position in the OAs 22. Many phases ensued, grinding ever closer, before some good hands gave Dinner Lady (playing out of position on the wing) a chance to get in the corner. Unfortunately he didn’t have the pace of a true winger, and was dragged down short. However OAs transgressed, and a quick tap penalty from Callum allowed BoJo to drive over from close range. 7-5 to Southwark.
The remainder of the first half was much more even, with both sides sharing territory and possession, however it was OAs who made better use of it; a number of phases in the Southwark 22 and another score in the corner – this time on the left wing. Another injury, this time a knock to the head for new prop Max, saw another replacement from the OAs 3s team, with Yemi stepping up to tighthead. At half-time the score was 10-7 to OAs.
The second half continued in the much the same vein as the first; the Tourists pack dominating the set piece (especially the scrummage) and carrying effectively in close, but with the OAs back-line looking the more dangerous. However, it was Southwark who scored first; with the ball being recycled a number of times in the OAs 22, Callum marshalled his forwards beautifully, and the carrying power of the Southwark forwards eventually told, with Ping Pong scoring under the posts. Somehow, Callum missed the conversion (he left before he could be awarded the DoD, but it can wait until next time). The away side led 12-10.
A quick riposte was called for by the OAs captain, and unfortunately for the Tourists, that is exactly what he got. Some strong carrying from the OAs centre (who had a good game throughout) enabled OAs to get territory, and despite being held-up once, OAs scored from the ensuing pressure. OAs fourth try came from an unexpected source. Despite dominating the scrum all game, a Tourists scrum on the edge of their own 22 was nicked against the head by OAs, and some sharp acceleration by the number 8 enabled him to break away to score. Another missed conversion by OAs, but the home side had an 8 point lead with 15 minutes to go.
Even losing Captain Ping Pong to a back injury, Southwark fought their way back and dominated the next 10 minutes. As in the first half, the score eventually came from a tap penalty 5 yards out; the only difference this time being that Callum’s pass put BoJo into a gap rather than into a defender, and he crossed virtually untouched. Callum converted, and Southwark were only one point behind with 7 minutes to play.
Unfortunately, with the game getting looser, the OAs back row started to dominate the breakdown once again, and OAs were able to march down the field into the Southwark 22. A number of phases later, Southwark were caught short on the left, and OAs were able to get a fifth try with the final play of the match. More poor kicking from OAs (they missed all 5 attempts) meant that Southwark left disappointed but with a bonus point – 25-19 final score.
Injuries and a lack of fitness took their toll on Southwark in this game, although positives can be taken from the very strong scrum, the arrival of new players, and the second half fight-back to within one point.
Tries – BoJo x2, Ping Pong x1
MoM – BoJo for 2 tries and some strong carrying. Honourable mentions to Yemi for his carrying and Ed for a dominant scrummaging display.
DoD – Dinner Lady on the day for not finishing a fine Southwark move, but Calum owes one for missing a kick in front of the posts.