LONDON CORNISH 34 OLD ALLEYNIANS 12
London Cornish ended a run of three successive defeats to claim a try scoring bonus point in a 34-12 win over an impressive Old Alleynians side, writes Ben Gilby.
The action started from the opening whistle with a huge hit by Alleynians, which set the tone for a thrilling afternoon of rugby in a match which, in terms of quality and excitement, would put many games higher up the league system to shame.
After a short period where the two teams were trying to work each other's strengths and weaknesses, it was Cornish who produced the first chance.
Wingers Robin Heymann and Rich Skinnard combined to put in Luke Spells, who eased over to score after six minutes.
The Exiles' centre added the extras by converting his own try.
Three minutes later, the same trio combined once more to cause no end of panic in the Dulwich side's defence, but this time, a pass to Adam Rae went out of play.
After a brief period of forward oriented pressure, Cornish hit back when they were awarded a penalty some 40 metres out in a central position.
Luke Spells stepped up once more to dissect the posts and The Black and Golds' lead was up to 10-0 with just 12 minutes gone.
The home side built on this to turn the screw further. Several huge scrums ensued as Cornish gained a real foothold in the opposition 22.
The run of fortune down the left wing continued with Luke Spells receiving the ball once more to chalk up another try, as the lead went out to 17-0, with the Cornish centre responsible for all of the points.
As the half entered its second 20 minute period, Alleynians grabbed a foothold in the game, and began to show just how dangerous they are.
They generated a big rolling maul which looked to be unstoppable with Fred Parker heading for a try, however, the Cornish pack regathered the advantage and the Alleynians' scrum half was held up.
The pressure continued, and from a five metre scrum, Tom Pickett eventually grounded the ball after several aborted attempts were held up by the Cornish defence.
To their immense credit, Cornish hit back immediately - a huge rolling maul sent the visitors scuttling backwards twenty metres.
Despite there being several men spare on the overlap, the ball went through the phases, and Rob Healey dived over from fly-half. Spells converted, and Cornish led 22-5 at the break.
The second half was full of superb action, despite the fact that we had to wait until the 32nd minute of the half for the next points!
Old Alleynians pushed 'The Exiles' back into their own half for the first 10 minutes.
Cornish defended heroically, with phase after phase of attack repelled.
It was a performance of passion and sheer bloody-mindedness and one which was all about pride. n two occasions, strong attacks down the right hand wing were stopped by sensational work by Rich Skinnard who dragged attackers into touch.
A further powerful Old Alleynians attack saw Tom Chambers held up, before the ball found its way back to Jake Smith whose attempted drop goal attempt only succeeded in hitting the upright of a post on the pitch behind the one that this game was being played on!
As the half wore on, Cornish were buoyed by their superb defending, and managed to break out. Once more it was the wingers who had a prominent role.
Robin Heymann glided down the wing, and could only be stopped illegally. 'The Exiles' opted for the scrum, and the forwards quite magnificently drove Alleynians backwards until Mark Osei-Tutu grounded the ball to confirm the try scoring bonus point.
However, Old Alleynians were not finished, and they responded by launching another attack which resulted in forward Charlie Thompson grounding the ball, and Jake Smith added the conversion.
The final word went to London Cornish who went straight back up the other end, and chalked up try number five as Rob Healey recorded his second of the afternoon, and his third in two games.
This was a marvellous game of rugby, and Cornish will be delighted with their performance and victory. However, Old Alleynians showed more than enough to prove that they have so many more weapons than last season, and are sure to claim a number of notable scalps before the season is out on this showing.