Old Haileyburyians 19 Trinity 21
Trinity took their unbeaten league record on the road to an opponent who have shown in the past that they can field a wide variety of playing strengths and certainly should not be assumed from their won two, lost two record to be a side of mid-table mediocrity. Compared to most visitors, Trinity should be fairly comfortable with the slope on the pitch and they started the first half with the incline in their favour, but with the home side fielding a pair of very tall forwards and Trinity a little injured depleted in the line out, kicking for territory was not as good option as could have been the case.
Right from the kick-off the visitors posed a threat and some marvellous sleight of hand amongst the backs conjured up a golden opening in the first two minutes. In his youth skipper Temi Okenla would have slid in untouched with such a chance, but in this case he was hauled down short of the line. Shortly afterwards Connor McGrath was a split second ahead of the rest of the forwards in seeing waywardness in the line out, snagging the ball cleanly despite a non-jumping function and forcing his way over the line, only for the pile of bodies that came with it preventing the ball being grounded for a try. On their first attacking possession, OHs made the missed opportunities looked expensive by opening the scoring on the left for a 7-0 lead. Trinity replied very soon after via Andrew Dean and it was apparent that both sides were intent on running the ball, although the scores were kept in check thanks to some strong defence, and a tendency for OHs to be penalised for hanging on to the ball for too long in the tackle.
Having drilled the conversion of Dean’s try against the post, Jack Greenwood quickly added a penalty to give Trinity an 8-7 lead. With topography in their favour, this margin did not seem something to be satisfied with and on the stroke of halftime Rob Farmer added another score, this one converted by Greenwood for 15-7 advantage.
As much as Trinity had dominated the first period, the tables were turned as expected in second, with OHs having an edge territorially and finishing their moves more often due to cutting down the penalty count around the tackle. They struck first to cut the gap to one point, but a Greenwood penalty allowed Trinity to pull away slightly for a 18-14 lead. For the next twenty minutes the visitors defence worked excellently, corralling the OH runners into dead ends, and then finding the forwards or centres often in a position to turn possession over once they had done so. However, with barely ten minutes on the clock OHs got the go ahead try via Trinity’s only defensive mix up of the day, missing the conversion to hold the lead at 19-18. From that point on Trinity avoided the risk of conceding further points but were struggling to find a chance to get the winning score. With the game edging into injury time, OHs conceded a penalty in front of the posts for back chat to the referee, which Greenwood put over for the final 21-19 scoreline. A close game, a lot of good attacking rugby played and countered with effective defending, ending in a win that keeps Trinity top of the table (although only by a point from Old Amplefordians and Purely John Fisher).
Next week sees the 1sts back at Lime Meadow Avenue against Law Society, kicking off at 2.30pm.