Although excited at the prospect of playing in the final there was a certain amount of trepidation in the OAs camp about the prospect of playing a Stortford team sitting comfortably in their league which is two above that of OAs.
Buoyed by being able to field a near full strength side and with the luxury of being able to call on replacements OAs kicked off into a slight breeze. The opening exchanges were fairly even until a fine run by Sheldon resulted in Stortford conceding a penalty just short of their line. Oliie kicked to the corner and the ball was safely secured at the lineout allowing OAs to set up a maul. Repeated efforts to cross the line were met by stout Stortford defence with the ball finally being held up over the line for an OAs 5 metre scrum. The pack won the ball cleanly but unfortunately inaccuracy in passing lead to a knock on and the chance went begging.
OAs were soon back deep in Stortford territory with another lineout but this time the ball could not be gathered cleanly allowing Stortford to clear.
After enjoying so much possession and good attacking opportunities one felt that OAs might rue the not being able to turn this into points and so it proved when, after 20 minutes, loose ball on half way was gathered by the very rapid Stortford winger who outpaced the OAs defence to score under the posts. 7-0 to Stortford.
Undeterred by conceding the opening score against the run of play, OAs were soon back on the attack with a powerful run by Jaiden which took play deep into the Stortford 22 which resulted in another 5 metre lineout for OAs. OAs were again unable to turn the pressure into points with good Stortford defence winning turnover ball allowing them to clear their lines.
It was now Stortford’s turn to attack and from one of their few attacking positions in OAs 22 were able to bundle over for their second try. With half time looming there was a feeling of déjà vu as the alert Stortford winger pounced on loose ball before racing away to score under the posts to make the halftime score 21-0 to Stortford.
One would have understood if OAs heads had started to drop after getting so little reward for so much effort and it is to their great credit that they started the second half strongly and were soon back deep in Stortford territory. After several attempts to breach the Stortford defence Brandon spotted a gap and barged over for a well deserved try. 21-5 to Stortford.
The OAs pack seemed to have the upper hand at scrum time, securing their own put in easily and shoving Stortford back on their put ins. Unfortunately they were unable to take full advantage of this superiority due to the laws governing junior rugby which restrict the movement of scrums.
OAs pressed for another score to get themselves back into the game and were given the opportunity when another Stortford infringement allowed Ollie to kick to the corner for a further 5 metre line out. Unfortunately, OAs lost possession and good handling by the Stortford backs released their winger who had the pace to evade the OAs cover and cross for his hat trick.
OAs never gave up the fight but their efforts were taking their toll and Stortford were able to take advantage, breaking through a couple of tired OAs tackles in midfield to break clear and touch down for their fifth try making the final score 35-5 to Stortford.
OAs should be incredibly proud of their efforts and were greeted with well deserved applause as they left the field. For large periods of the game it was very difficult to tell that the teams play two leagues apart. In the end the difference between the two teams was the excellent Stortford winger, who OAs struggled to contain, and the fact that OAs were unable to turn lots of good attacking opportunities into points due to a combination of good Stortford defence and unforced errors at crucial moments.
Thanks must go to Martin and Trevor for their hard work this season which has resulted in a team playing excellent rugby with great spirit and commitment at all times.