A spirited performance by the Wild Geese
On Saturday 4th February the Wild Geese hosted Old Elthamians at Hazelwood, in National League 2 South, and put on a very spirited show, though going down by 14 points to 43 against a very good Elthamians squad.
OE opened the scoring with a converted try after 3 minutes, which didn’t augur well, but the Wild Geese response was good, scoring a try themselves after 11 minutes through outside-centre Andy Jones, converted by full-back Ollie Turner to level the scores. The recent injury problems for the Wild Geese continued when Jones had to be taken off, after 15 minutes, to be replaced by debutant Meeson Bradley. On the 23rd minute, the powerful OE pack scored a pushover try, which was converted. To this they added a penalty goal after 35 minutes and a stoppage time converted try to take a half-time lead of 22-7.
John S Hunter reports
The first 20 minutes of the second half produced no scores with the Wild Geese giving as good as they got. In the 20th minute, a scintillating run from left-wing George Owen, from his own half to deep in the opposition 22, inspired the Wild Geese and they scored a try after 25 minutes by Owen, converted by Turner, to bring the score-line to 14-22. However, the last 10 minutes saw OE pull away, first of all with a piece of smart thinking at the front of a line-out leading to a converted try. A Wild Geese weakness (mentioned before) – aimless kicking – emerged again in the 35th minute, leading to a counter-attack and a converted try. OE rubbed salt into the wounds in stoppage time with another converted try to give the final score-line of 14-43.
The final score-line did not accurately reflect the game, with OE scoring 21 points in the last 10 minutes. However, there was no doubt that they fully merited their victory, being probably the best side that the Wild Geese have played at Hazelwood this season. It was quite amusing to hear their coach admonishing them for seemingly “playing Sevens” in the second half! They, in fact, varied their play well, using the width of the pitch combined with power plays up the middle. Against this onslaught, the Wild Geese defence held its own for much of the game and they was no shame in being defeated by bigger, more powerful opponents. If we maintain this level of performance (and the injury situation doesn’t worsen!) against the best of opponents (and OE are currently 3rd in the league table) then we should be safe from relegation worries. Our other weakness (discipline) was good in this game. As it is, all teams around us lost on Saturday past meaning that the status quo in the league table holds for another week.