Olney beaten in season’s curtain raiser

Olney vs Old Laurentians. Pic: Jeff Bowden
Olney vs Old Laurentians. Pic: Jeff Bowden

Olney’s Midlands 2 East (South) season began with a defeat at home to Old Laurentians, going down 20-12.

Kicking off in torrid conditions, neither side were able to get a handling game going, and it led to a scrappy opening period. Olney had an edge in the encounter between the forwards and, despite being awarded successive penalties close enough to suggest kicking for points, they opted to run the ball to no avail.

The opening quarter produced no scores and the first points came from a well taken penalty by John Bean, for the visitors, to give them the lead 3-0 after 22 minutes.

Following this Olney were deprived of their prop, New Zealander, Jeremiah Shields, injured, replaced by Euan Walker. Shortly after this a further change to the Olney line up brought Jordan Letts on for Will Durden who required some running repairs.

Play was contained in the midfield for a period, Olney’s kicks to put the action in the visitor’s half being countered by clearing kicks from the opposition. This resulted in a number of lines out in the home half, with Olney having the throw in. Olney were unable to take full advantage, their technique, and the presence of more height among the opposing forwards, failed to produce good ball.

A knock on by the visitors gave Olney the put in at a scrum near the home ‘22’, they won the ball and kicked for touch.

Following up Olney were awarded a penalty for an infringement by the visitor’s defence and the ball was kicked for a line out on OL’s. ‘22’. This time the forwards won the ball and fed the backs. The ball was put through the hands and the forwards supported the move to put lock George Stanton in for a try. There was no conversion but Olney went in front 5-3 just before half time.

But less than a minute after the restart, OL’s were in front as captain Ben Wiles shredded the Olney defence to cross the line, putting the visitors 10-5 up.

Olney suffered a further loss in the front row, prop Graham Smith coming off Charlie Harris going on; Jordan Letts who had stood in temporarily for Durden, replaced Dave Smith.

Olney were relieved to avoid a further deficiency when the visitors failed with an attempt at goal from a penalty in front. However the next score was to the benefit of OL’s when a line out infringement by the home pack gave a free kick to the opposition. The ball was kicked through and chased by Wiles who touched down for a try that he failed to convert. This extended their lead to 15-5 nine minutes into the half.

The changes in the home pack resulted in ‘unopposed scrums’ but the disruption of the home forwards was evident. This produced some scrappy play and it took an opportunist try from centre James Padfield, who intercepted a move by the visitors, running three-quarters the length of the pitch, and touch down for a try, converted by Jordan Letts. This closed the gap to 15-12 halfway through the second half.

Play continued with OL’s looking dangerous when they had the ball in their hands, but they relied on individual efforts rather than creating the extra man and passing and Olney were hampered by unforced errors.

It looked as though there would be no further score until, in added time, another kick through and chase into the corner of the pitch, the ball was just in play when Troy Owen touched down for OL’s and secure the win