Olney topple table-toppers St Ives
Olney took over top spot in Midlands 2 East (South) with a thrilling 16-14 win over St Ives.
They kicked off into the wind and the home team used it to their advantage, kicking to touch inside Olney's '22'. St. Ives won the ball on the visitors throw in and Olney were guilty of having a man offside. The attempt to convert failed and this would prove vital later in the game.
From the '22' drop out St. Ives counter attacked but Olney gained possession when the opposition were penalised. Play was held up for some five minutes due to a 'soft ball' and no available replacement. Olney kicked to touch when a suitable ball was produced and made no mistakes at this lineout. Winning the ball they drove the maul to near the St. Ives goal line. A defender carried the ball into touch giving Olney another lineout. They won ball and fed their backs. Jordan Letts, at 10, put a perfect 'grubber' to the corner, for winger Harry James to pick up and touchdown. The try was unconverted, but Olney were 5-0 to the good.
St. Ives kicked off to restart and despite the following wind, the ball failed to 'go ten'. Olney won the resulting scrum, but some resolute defending by the home side prevented the visitors making ground into the homeside's territory. St Ives were awarded a penalty for a high tackle and this time the wind assisted a good kick to goal by Paul Ashbridge.
Olney kicked off and, against the wind, this one also failed to 'go ten'. Play was confined to mid field, both sides defending and covering any attempts to allow the opposition a chance to open up play and get the ball to the backs. Any attempts by the backlines were smothered by good defending. The next score was from a penalty converted by Ashbridge, the wind assisting a good kick to lead. 6-5.
Olney kicked off again and St. Ives counter attacked, a knock on relieved the pressure on the visitor's defence and Letts was able to clear to touch. St. Ives won the lineout and gained further advantage from a penalty, for offside. They ran the ball and scored a try touched down by Peter Fahey, not converted. St Ives extending their lead to 11-5 after 25 mins.
Play continued to be mainly a close encounter between the forwards. Olney made a change in the pack David Rainbow replaced by Taylor French. They were forced to make another change Jake Ashton being excluded from play for ten minutes , 'yellow carded'. The penalty was converted by Ashbridge to send them 14-5 ahead at the break.
St. Ives kicked off for the second half and the ball not 'going ten' gave the visitors a scrum on the centre spot. Olney won the ball and attacked through their backs. A well judged kick by David Smith used the now following wind to put the ball into touch near the St. Ives goal line. The home side managed to win the lineout ball and put it into touch on their 10m. line. A penalty against St. Ives gave Olney another lineout on the home '22'. From the ensuing play Olney were awarded a penalty inside St. Ives '22' and Letts converted to close the deficit to 14-8.
Play continued to be mainly a contest between the forwards. With their numbers being returned to full strength, Jake Ashton having served his time, Olney began to take a grip on the game. Unfortunately some poor handling and unforced errors made their job harder.
A line out inside the home '22' was thrown in 'not straight by St Ives. Olney won the ball from the scrum and attacked off the back row. Skipper, Gareth Carhill touched down for an unconverted try to move within a point of St. Ives.
Following the restart Olney took play back to the halfway line and at the breakdown were awarded a penalty, between St. Ives 10m. line and halfway. Letts stepped up and with the last kick of the game, and saw it go over the bar, courtesy of a deflection off the post.