Match report 14 January 2023

Old Pauline 1st XV vs Bec Old Boys 1st XV

Arguably the biggest game of the year against Bec Old Boys, the team that sat second in the league table behind the mighty OPs, albeit with a game in hand. We had succumbed back in October at their place so retribution was on the cards.

An early meet for a pre-game training session to iron out a few issues from last week and blow away the rest of the holiday cobwebs. Some promising set piece work and running of plays but alas our fearless leader ODT succumbed to a calf strain which ruled him out of playing. Almost simultaneously Dan Wellings had the same injury and was also ruled out.

So to the game…

Early pressure from OPs but sadly at 9 minutes gone in the Bec 22, Bec score against run of play and put the first points on the board 0-7.

11 minutes gone – another good period of play before Bec (possibly aided by a forward pass, but not spotted by the referee) scored again. Sour grapes by us or the correct call by the referee, but the score still stood. 0-14.

A steady passed of play ensued despite some questionable refereeing of the offside line of the rucks which was to be addressed in due course but at the 23 minute mark, a high tackle awarded to Bec meant a shot at goal and the lead extending to 17 points.

Bec continued to push hard and were camped down in our 22 until Dec, playing at 13 made a fantastic intercept. Despite being chased down by their winger he managed to keep the ball alive with strong support from Birrell with Max Hart – our fearless captain of the day – to cross for the score. He must have spent all his energy as the conversion eluded him…5-17.

Massive Bec pressure continued, countered by some sublime defence through this passage of play (and indeed the entire game), to hold them out until their No. 8 made a pick and drive to score. They missed the conversion 5-22.

Another OP interception and the comeback was on – 12-22, but Bec had other ideas! A well worked try negating the OP score. 12- 27 and Bec still 2 two clear scores ahead.

That said, OPs weren’t about to take it lying down and piled continued pressure onto Bec as they looked to close the gap. A well worked try and slick hands leading to the last points being scored by OPs. The final score 17-27. High winds and injuries to Hall, Harrison and Rossi took their toll, but all credit to the OPs as they stood tall against a strong opposition destined for promotion. The game significantly closer that the away fixture earlier in the season.

Dave Nicholas