Street’s survival hopes still in tacts after victory
London II North East
Old Streetonians 13 Saffron Walden 8
Old Streetonians kept their survival hopes alive on Saturday, in a hard fought encounter with Saffron Walden.
Street knew that nothing less than the four points for a win would mean that survival was taken out of their hands on the final day of the season in two weeks time.
But this 13-8 victory, in a reversal from the 17-0 defeat in the return fixture before Christmas, saw Street keep their London 2 North East destiny in their own hands.
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Saffron Walden started the strongest, despite being seriously outgunned at the scrum by the Old St front row. They attacked at pace, skilfully directed by their fly-half, and it was only scrambling defence that once again this season kept Street on level terms. After the initial wave, Street gained some territory, and launched a few attacks of their own.
From a lineout on the right hand side Andy Dunn, returning after injury at no.10, ghosted through a gap to feed Mills, who still had work to do to beat the fullback to score under the posts. Barham converted for an early Street lead of 7-0.
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SW came back and had their own period of pressure.
One horribly shanked penalty, one beautifully struck one from near the halfway line, and one narrowly missed drop goal from a missed touch finder from Street later, and the home side were still 7-3 to the good.
There was still time in the half for Street to blow some opportunities of their own though.
First Mills, then Mackay, put their head down and went for the glory when a pass outside to the waiting Dunn and Perry would have seen certain scores. This lack of execution has hurt Street before, and is something they will need to remedy next season, whichever league they are in.
The second half saw Street start to feel the pressure of the occasion, as their running game almost stopped, the ball barely getting outside of the inside centre channel.
The scrum was also under attack, as the Saffron loosehead began to illegally bore under Wollaston. With no support from the referee, the visitors scrum was free to start to dominate, putting Street even more on the back foot.
But Street, with the wind now at their back, did venture into SW territory, Barham taking three points for a misdemeanour at the breakdown.
As Saffron Walden came again and again, Street were defending well, not least from Donegan at full back. Attacking chances were limited for the veteran Australian, but his class in defence, against stronger, faster and younger opponents, was clear for all to see. Four times try saving tackles helped keep Street ahead. But there was nothing he could do about the try when it came, the Saffron Walden prop barrelling over from short range. But with the conversion missed, Street kept their advantage, 10-8.
Street came back again, with chances in both corners for the ever lively McAndrew, but a questionable forward pass call on the right, and a mix up with Perry on the left, meant that the little Scotsman could not add to his tally for the season, and make the Street support breathe a little easier in the final quarter.
But Barham did manage another penalty to extend the lead to 13-8 with 10 minutes remaining.
Cue more frantic defence from Street, including a yellow card for Pickard for slowing the ball down at the ruck. As the minutes ticked down, the niggle that had been growing at the coalface of the scrum, blew up at a ruck. A prolonged bout of handbags, involving all 30 players in either aggressor or peacemaker capacity, persuaded the referee to end the game while brandishing two more yellow cards. So Street stay alive.
They need a bonus point win (a win and four tries) to guarantee their safety, against bottom of the league Harlow in two weeks time.
Old Streetonians: Hollingsworth, Mackay, Wollaston, Silverstone, Jones, Andrews, Mills, Atkinson, Yip, Dunn, Perry, Pickard, Barham, McAndrew, Donegan.