Away win against Luton
Old Priorians win 39-21 on the road against Luton to move to fifth in London 1 (North).
Old Priorians travelled to Newlands this week, to face a Luton side struggling for form this campaign. The OPs were looking to make it two wins from two after a masterful performance at home to Chingford last time out, however a stubborn Luton side had a different ideas on their home ground and were not about to let the OPs have it all their own way.
The OPs, led out by captain Andrew Wilkie, took the game to the hosts in the opening minutes, earning a penalty within kicking range after some early pressure. Fullback Ross McIntosh took advantage, securing a 0-3 lead for the visitors in the 2nd minute. Some neat play on the left flank nearly saw open side flanker Barney Wellings over the line in the corner, but for some good defensive work by Luton’s right winger. A yellow card followed for the same player after airing his opinion on a subsequent refereeing decision with some choice words. The OPs capitalised on the numerical advantage, Wellings, not to be denied again, going over for the first try of the game, 0-8. Luton fought back almost instantly, converting a penalty in the 16th minute to make it 3-8 after the OPs fell foul of an offside decision.
The OPs went into the Luton half in search of a second try, and found it shortly after, building several phases in final third. A cut out pass from fly half Jack Dever was seized on to by left winger Aristide Goualin, going over for his 6th try of the season. The initiative was handed straight back to Luton however, after some sloppy work from the resulting kick-off led to a penalty for Luton just shy of the OP’s 22 metre line. Luton’s fly-half kicked the points to bring the score back to 6-13. The OPs finished the half poorly, with further pressure from the hosts leading to a try after a robust driving maul, and a pick and drive for the line, The try unconverted. Priorians replied with a try from a driving maul of their own after accurate throwing from Jonathan Moore. Wellings touching down for his second try. Luton followed this up with converted penalty; a timely repost, leaving the OPs without time to respond, 14-18 the score at half time in the OP’s favour.
Coaches Andrews and Browne must have given the OP Twisters some good old fashioned hoover treatment at half time, as they came out a side unrecognisable from the latter stages of the first half. In the 2nd minute of the 2nd half, the Priorians earned a 5 metre scrum after a Luton handling error. The OP scrum was one of the bright spots of the first half and this carried on into the second, with captain Wilkie picking from the base and going over for his 3rd try in 2 games and the OP’s 4th of the match, securing the bonus point in the process. McIntosh converted the extras to take the score to 12-25.
The OPs then started to play the “Joué” rugby they are renowned for. A tidy move from the backline started and finished by fly-half Dever, after sending outside centre David Wilkie piercing through the Luton defensive line like a knife through butter. Wilkie went off on a mazy run towards the Luton try line finding McIntosh in support about 10 metres out, who after some neat footwork, played the ball to Dever, on the loop round who crossed the line in the left corner; a surprising 1st try of the season for the former golden boot winner. The breakaway was to be Wilkie’s last involvement in the game, making way for winger Jack Wheeler with James Booth moving from the right wing, to outside centre in the resultant reshuffle. Wheeler’s impact was almost immediate as Dever found him with an accurate lofted miss pass, Wheeler running on to the ball at pace to charge 50 metres up the field from inside his own half. Wheeler linked up with his opposite winger Goualin via a nonchalant one handed pass. Goualin moved the ball on to forward of the match Barney Wellings who was trailing the play. Wellings threw the final pass of the move to set up what would have been the try of the season for inside centre Daniel Porter, had the pass not drifted forwards; an error since earned Wellings the apt moniker “the Butcher of Ealing”, a tag he will be hoping to shake off.
Some more enterprising play from the twisters backline from after more a solid set piece ball from the pack, saw Porter send centre partner Booth angling through the Luton line of Defence with what Porter proclaimed as “Dan Carter esque handling”. Back of the match Booth used his vision to find winger Wheeler on his right shoulder, who showed why he is the club’s top try scorer so far this season, finishing the move off with aplomb, just to the right of the sticks. Another 2 from McIntosh meant the score was now 14-39, a deserved lead.
The final say of the match however, went to the hosts Luton, whose never say die attitude led to a 78th minute try after a sustained period of pressure on the OP’s try line, which saw loose head prop Sam Mahoney spend the final few minutes of the game in the sin bin after a multitude of team infringements in the red zone. Luton missed the resulting conversion to leave the score at 21-39. With seconds left to spare in the game, a sight no Old Priorians fan wanted to see as winger Goualin, recently back from injury, limped off the field clutching his left hamstring; an injury which has already limited his game time this season. The Priorian’s coaching staff face an anxious wait for the scan results and will be hoping for minimal time on the side lines for their left winger. 21-39 the final score, and after a strong 2nd half, the OPs headed back down the M1 with much to work on ahead of next week’s game at home to Thurrock. But there were certainly more positives to take back to West London than negatives and Twisters fans will be hoping that with the confidence from back to back wins now, the side can really push on in the remaining few months of the season towards the top few places.
January 26th 2016