Olney win in arctic conditions
Not by Jim Ford
Olney First XV took the trip up the M1 to Coventry to play the rearranged game against Pinley RFC, the first game having fallen foul of the Beast from the East. However based on the horizontal snow on the trip up and during the 'warm' up (never was a term more inappropriate) then this wasn't going to be much better conditions than the first weekend.
Olney played with the 40mph wind at their backs in the first half (the wind was blowing straight down the pitch so even the gentlest of kicks was at risk of going over the dead ball line). However despite this advantage they struggled to break down a very determined Pinley defence (unlike the Pinley defence when they played at East Street). Despite a fairly hefty penalty count advantage to the visitors, the wind and heavy under foot conditions made it difficult to gain any control. A couple of kickable penalties were sacrificed for field position, without resulting in points, whilst a kick for goal that was taken, was missed, meaning that the clock had almost reached half time before there was a score. A penalty in the Pinley half was converted by Sean Mulvey. Pinley 0-3 Olney (35 minutes). This was then followed by sustained Olney pressure and, turning down another kickable penalty for a kick to the corner, the catch and drive worked well resulting in Pinley collapsing the maul and a penalty try being awarded. Pinley 0-10 Olney (Half time). The game had been played almost entirely in the Pinley 22 so the key question was whether this was a big enough lead given the wind advantage.
The referee decided that a couple of minutes was enough for half time (and no-one disagreed).
The second half pattern of play was different in that Olney did manage to play some of the game in the previously untouched 'wind end' however any clearing kick gained huge yardage and Pinley managed to get some field position for the first time in the game. The Olney defence however was immense, across the field, and some tremendous close quarter work around the fringes ensured that Pinley did not break the Olney line. The result was always in the balance given the weather advantage, however Olney slowly managed to work up the field and then, following a scrum on half way, Eliot Simpson intercepted a poor Pinley pass and raced clear. He was brought down near the Pinley 22 but a quick recycle resulted in a pass to Cam Kok (at speed). Kok went through a gap and touched down. Mulvey converted and made the game safe. Pinley 0-17 Olney. (74 minutes).
The game then petered out with both sides looking forward to a shower.
This was a good performance in as colder conditions as anyone could remember. The horizontal snow mid first half was a particular low point and playing in a force 8 wind tunnel was never going to make it a game of beauty. Olney stuck to their task well, turned pressure into points and then defended resolutely. The six hardy supporters who made the trip were rewarded with the win.
Team: Can't remember, too cold
Team sponsor: Desmond J. Smail