Olney RFC Colts go out of National Colts Cup at quarter final stage
Match Report by Fraser Bull
Never was “It could have gone either way” been more appropriate for a game played in fantastic spirit by two very evenly matched and talented sides. The lead changed hands six times, five times in the second half and twice in the last five minutes and in what were challenging conditions, the level of quality of rugby never dipped below excellent.
Chinnor made Olney feel very welcome and a decent sized crowd of home and travelling support filled the sides of the pitch. As seems to be theme of National Colts cup the strong wind was blowing diagonally across the pitch and down the slope. Chinnor played with both in their favour in the first half and after some pressure from their forwards eventually managed to get over the line and score an unconverted try (Chinnor 5 – 0 Olney). This could have opened the floodgates with a very powerful pack and back line running hard at the Olney defence but time after time Olney held firm and tackling across the field was outstanding. Particular mention should go to Phil Bowden for his tackle on the Chinnor substitute 12 who came straight at him with a fair degree of force and somehow Phil knocked him down just short of the line. This summed up the Olney defence which made tackle after tackle and withheld the pressure.
With 30 minutes gone Olney finally managed to get their hands on the ball in the Chinnor half and a series of quick taps and drives took
them to the Chinnor line. A kick to touch was sacrificed for a penalty tap and after a number of rucks Sean Mulvey burrowed over for a try out wide to the right. Keiron Manson converted with a superb kick across the breeze (Chinnor 5 – 7 Olney). It was a clear case of taking your chances and Olney had taken theirs. Amazingly with little ball but a lot of effort, Olney lead at half time.
The second half started with an early penalty for Olney on half way. The obvious kick to touch was turned down with Sean Mulvey taking on the ‘Eliot Daly’ role of the long attempt at goal. He cleared the posts with a bit to spare and Olney lead by 5 (Chinnor 5 – 10 Olney).
This seemed to galvanize Chinnor with them now demonstrating they could play into the wind as well. A series of attacking pick and drives as well as driving mauls finally paid dividends and they touched down near the posts, kick converted with 10 minutes of second half gone (Chinnor 12 – 10 Olney). For both sides the next 10 minutes were played at an even higher level of intensity culminating in a penalty for Olney that Mulvey converted (Chinnor 12 – 13 Olney).
Chinnor responded with a series of attacks and a couple of powerful driving mauls eventually resulted in a try out wide. From a similar position to the Olney kick earlier the conversion was made and the lead changed hands again (Chinnor 19 – 13 Olney).
Olney then had a period of sustained pressure and a number of penalties were won but kicks turned down to run instead given the time was running down and Chinnor were ahead in the try count in the event of a draw. This paid off when with 3 minutes to go Kieran Manson danced through the Chinnor defence to score a try. Mulvey converted and Olney lead (Chinnor 19 – 20 Olney).
However this game had one more twist. Chinnors forwards won a lineout on the Olney 10m line and drove towards the 22. The referee awarded a penalty and the Chinnor kicker had a chance to win the game with a kick about 10m to the left of the posts into the wind. He held his nerve and made the kick and whilst there was still time to kick off the next play was the last (Chinnor 22- 20 Olney).
This was an outstanding game. No-one deserved to lose and it was undoubtedly the best Olney Colts performance of the season. All players and coaches should take great credit from their performance. The scrum held firm, the lineout worked well, the rucking was outstanding and the tackling was fantastic. When Olney had the ball in their hands, both forwards and backs, they looked threatening and the support play and commitment could not be questioned.
It was a proud set of coaches, parents and supporters that clapped them off and they deserve every accolade for how they conducted themselves and represented the club. To put it into context this group of players reached the last 4 in the country last year and the last 8 this year. They fully deserve to be ranked in the top club sides in the country and have set the bar for where other strong age groups coming through the club should aim.
Chinnor were excellent hosts, and a strong, powerful, well-drilled team and we wish them well in their semi final in a couple of weeks.
[photo by Jeff Bowden]