Olney Colts move into last 16 of National Cup in thriller
Team sponsors: Cawleys Recycling, Osborn Fencing and Desmond J Smail
The National Colts Cup has been a happy hunting ground for Olney Colts in recent years, with a chance to match up against sides from further afield than usual, and this 'last 32' game was no exception. Olney had been drawn at home against Woodbridge RFC from Suffolk with neither side having any experience of the other, although Olney were aware of Woodbridge's very strong record this season and that they had been beaten finalists in the plate competition of the National Cup last year, so had a strong pedigree.
If Woodbridge were a bit jaded from the long journey then they didn't show it by taking the lead with a flowing move in the first few minutes to score a try out wide, unconverted (0-5). In what was then the general pattern of the game Olney then had a series of attacks and showed great patience to go through a number of phases before Aaqil Attah scored a try in the corner. This was brilliantly converted by Jacob de Main from the touchline (7-5). Both sides played with great ambition and whilst Woodbridge showed great invention running from deep it was a penalty converted by de Main that was the next score (10-5). I should at this point out that such was the entertainment of the game that the next series of scores might not be in the right order as it was so enthralling (however it is near enough and you'll get the gist).
Woodbridge then probably scored the try of the game with Olney using the wind to kick deep, and despite a reasonable chase from the Olney backs, they put the ball through a series of hands in a great move ending with a try, unconverted (10-10). Olney then came back with a try of their own from Freddie Betteridge picking up from a scrum and driving over (more of him later), converted by de Main (15-10) followed by a penalty from de Main (18-10). Woodbridge then responded with a driving try of their own, again unconverted (18-15) and then took the lead with a converted try (18-22) just after half time (I think).
Olney then really stepped up their driving game resulting in Betteridge getting his second from close range, unconverted (23-22). This was followed by both teams having chances and the game going end to end but there was some clinical finishing from Betteridge, after great work from the forwards and some enterprising play in the backs, that lead to two further tries for him. No one seemed to be complaining about him hogging the ball given he had now scored four tries. One of the latter two was converted to give a lead of 35-22. That wasn't the end of the scoring though as Woodbridge managed an unconverted try in the last play of the game. Final score Olney 35 Woodbridge 22.
This was a fantastic game, enjoyed by a sizeable crowd given it kicked off an hour before the first team. It was gripping, as only when the two late tries were scored was there any daylight between the teams. The intensity and pace of the game was a considerable step up from the last round but the Olney team were able to cope impressively with that , despite being the smaller side. The handling and commitment of both sides was impressive and it was a great advert for the Colts game with both sides a credit to their clubs.
Olney now go on to play the winners of Cirencester versus old rivals Old Northamptonians in the last 16 of this National competition. News of the date of the game will be posted on the website.