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A Crucial Win for Old Halesonians

Longton 6 - 10 Old Halesonians

Last Updated: Dec 7, 2015 07:00pm
Hagley, Bromsgrove
By Mark Jackson
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The trip to Stoke on Trent was totally as expected on a ground open to all the elements and more. Longton is a difficult place to go at any time but the blustery conditions were to make for a very close battle throughout.

Hales had more changes with scrum half Dave Hadkiss crying off at short notice, replaced by debutant, and Worcester Academy 17 year old, Jamie Keen at scrum half. Loz Breese returned to the back row and Joe Oxford on the wing.

The Longton side lay in wait following their thrashing of Newport at the same ground two weeks ago. Hales as usual came out of the blocks with constant pressure, the wind blowing diagonally behind them. They reclaimed the ball from the kick off and put together 12 phases of great ball in hand play. Longton infringed in front of the posts after just 4 minutes and Oli Rayner converted for a lead 0 - 3.

Again, as the norm, Hales maintained the pressure with  some great individual runs from number 8 Jay Martin, Hooker Sam Jones and second row Tom King making inroads into the Longton 22. The set scrum was also dominated by the visitors front row Louis Padian, Jones and skipper Rich Taylor 

Keen at 9 was given ample possession and quickly adapted to the pace using both forwards and backs to penetrate the defence. On 9 minutes another typical forward run from Martin saw 25 metres gained. Hales pack were in support, 15 more phases of play took them towards the Longton line where Skipper Taylor picked up and drove through for an excellent try, converted by Rayner 0 - 10.

This was a time when Hales needed to score more points given the elements in their favour but a dogged Longton defence battled well and stemmed the flow for the rest of the half. Although the visitors dominated scrums and possession the pressure failed to produce more scores.

Following a hair dryer moment from Coach Ben Hughes at half time, Hales were in for a full-on second 40 minutes and so it proved to be. Longton knew every blade of grass and it appeared every change in wind direction, they set about their response which was constant.

Their trademark pick and go by the big pack was a continual threat and they made ground at every phase. Injury to Tom King saw Loz Breese replacing him, Breese having already changed with replacement Steve Leach on the back row. Apart from the odd break through their defences by Carl Robinson, Breese, Leach and Jones, Longton were now in control.

Their pressure was rewarded with 2 penalties on 42 and 60 minutes which brought the scores to 6 - 10. This was to be a long hard last 20 minutes with neither side giving way. Longton constantly made ground through the pack but Hales would not give in, their defensive play was the highlight of the game.

To a man the visitors tackled, mauled, rucked and disrupted, led by Leach, Jordan, Taylor, Martin and at times backs Barkley and Robinson joining rucks and mauls. Sam Jones had a stand-out defensive game with some great turnover ball.

Hales brought on Prop Matt Young for Padian and the scrum remained strong. The attacks by Longton were continually thwarted by a never die attitude by the visitors. The final whistle sounded with Longton wandering what could have been and Hales taking a well-deserved away win against the odds in the second half. 

Hales Director of Rugby Gary Cox said "We again did not play to our potential but we will take that as a crucial win. Our constant defensive game in the second half was immense. Special mention today for debutant, 17 year old Jamie Keen at 9. He equipped himself well and did all we asked of him, he has a great future"

Old Hales first team are at home this Saturday to Newport (Salop) kick off 2.15

 

Second team – Kidderminster 17 – 53 Old Halesonians

 

Tries – Harry Higgs, Tom Lewis, Nathan Newman (3), Jake Shellis (2), Kieron Haynes, Jon Harris

Conversions – Jake Shellis

 

Third team – Old Halesonians 44 – 10 Bridgnorth 3rds

 

Tries – Elliot Hickman (2), Dan Smith, Matt Weaver, Toby Wood, Steve Deakin, Dan Sheasby, Joe Bradley

Conversions – Gaz Price, Steve Deakin


Photo: File pic

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