Head Coach's Preview
We travel to Bristol this weekend for a very important fixture with regards to our desire to stay in touch with the top sides in the league. Last week was very pleasing and certainly not a day for open running rugby. We have been delighted with our ability to control and manage the two games this season that we have played in wet conditions and our half-backs demonstrated a good level of control in key areas of the game.
We expect Dings to be a well organised side who have a good set-piece and good set of backs and they certainly have one of the best defensive records in the league so will provide a stern test of our capabilities and one where we will have to be on top of our game to claim a vital away win. We used the opportunity to prepare on the newly installed 3G pitch at Harpenden on Tuesday night and thank the youth sides that swapped their training slots to enable us to get some training time on an artificial surface before the weekend’s game on a similar surface.
We once again have a few changes in the match day squad with Tim Bond, Alex Brown, Dan Watt, Tom Holdsworth and Ned Warne all back into the starting XV with Ashley Illston and Chris West both making a welcome return from injury on the bench.
Gavin Hogg, Head Coach
Morgan Thompson, fittingly, led his colleagues out to mark his 200th. National League appearance and celebrated the mark with a hard fought win over the West countrymen, played throughout in a virtual storm of wind and rain.
This week Albanians took every opportunity to score points when chance presented and this pragmatic approach went some way to blunting the vigorous challenge presented by the visitors. In so doing Tom Bednall amassed four penalties and one conversion and, despite the nasty weather OAs took the four league points and will spend the next few days working on areas of improvement.
Such areas will include the lineout as a matter of some urgency. This part of the Albanian game plan is not operating at full capacity but, when it does, greater power will be available to a talented back division.
As it was, the tight scrum stood up well to a bigger outfit, and possession and position gained here left Redcliffians somewhat on the back foot. OAs also used the substantial wind better than did their opponents, scoring at better than a point a minute in the opening phases.
Defence has caused Albanians some problems from time to time but not today. Two breakouts for the visitors resulted in two tries for rumbustious centre Jermain Jones. But all other goal line attempts were forestalled.
Bednall struck as early as the third minute, his first penalty with the wind at his back. He also converted tight head Chamnaoui Zaki’s try after 11 minutes and another penalty before the quarter hour. Jones crossed with three minutes of the quarter remaining to leave the interval score 16-5. Other than a mass of errors from both sides the second period saw Bednall’s last penalty and Jones’ second try as the weather deteriorated further.
There was greater urgency about the performance this week against a determined visiting effort and the team’s willingness to play running rugby even when the elements indicate differently will stand the squad in good stead in the months to come. It was well worth watching!
Next week the team venture west to confront the Crusaders, similarly placed in mid table. Kickoff 15.00hrs.
Brian Quinn, Press & Publicity
- Year Joined - 2010
- Position - Front Row
- Previous Clubs - Hemel Hempstead, Saracens Storm, Bath Uni, Richmond
Very excited to start my 8th season at OAs, and proud to be part of this great Rugby community.
Over the years, I've seen the club promoted through the leagues and am very driven to get us back into National One where we deserve to be."
Obviously captaining a relegated side in my first year wasn't the plan but I hadn't given it a second thought because of everything we have in place now at the club. Last season was such a big shift with all the departing players and coaches, it just took us too long to show a decent account of ourselves. We fought right down to the wire but it was just too little too late unfortunately. That being said I really believe we are in a strong place as a club, we've made some great signings for this new season, brought in or elevated some great coaches and lead by the best coach I've ever had in Gavin Hogg.
Arguably it might have been time for me to consider hanging up my boots but I still have a huge amount of excitement for another season of rugby and can't wait to get back in with the guys and show what we're all about.
Looking forward to another great season with all the continued support from everyone involved in and around the club!
- Year Joined - 2017/18
- Position - Number 8
- Nickname - Westy
- Previous Clubs - Harrow, Ruislip, Staines, Ampthill
I Only joined OAs towards the end of last season but it was clear pretty quickly that I had joined a great club with great people.
Battling hard towards the end of last season produced some heroic performances and I can't wait to get out there and show Nat 2 what we can achieve with this group of players.
We have an exciting coaching set up, a mountain of a skipper and a good blend of youth and experience. Watch this space!