FEATURED IN:Club News
The 1XV finished in a strong fourth place in London North West 3 – but the nagging feeling from 2018/19 will always be we could have gone better.
The season got off to a strong start with wins against Stevenage, Finchley and OMTs. Even at this early stage it was clear that the standard of the league had increased and our goal to top the league and secure promotion would be a challenge. Perhaps the one exception came the following week when we played Verulamians who had secured promotion two seasons prior. They had beat-en us to the top spot that year, but already looked like a contender for relegation this season.
On the 6th October we took on the much talked about London Welsh side, not only coached by ex-international, Tom May and premiership player Cai Griffiths but both of whom would play a role on the pitch against us. It was a wet and windy day at the Marshes, setting the scene for a tight top of the table clash. The game was largely about defence for us as Welsh mounted a few challenging assaults on our line. We held out and kept them to a nil score. This was picked up by the rugby media with the Telegraph describing it as a ‘scoreless classic’. Cai Griffiths was less flattering when interviewed for Wales Online saying it was ‘crazy’ and ‘horiffic’.
Two weeks later we headed on the Empress to a sunny Datchworth. Despite our strong start, Da-tchworth took control of the game in the second half, competing hard at every breaking down and turning over a lot of ball as a result. Eventually the lack of possession took its toll and Datchworth finished the game 28-17. This was followed by a narrow 26-24 at home to Kilburn Cosmos and a 24-20 loss away to Tabard. The final few games before Christmas saw the team get back to win-ning ways, securing victories over Harrow, Cheshunt, Royston and Finchley. In the new year Veru-lamians were rooted at the bottom of the table: our comfortable win over them was no surprise.
Next was a trip to Old Deer Park to play a London Welsh side which had hardly missed a beat since we had played them earlier in the year. Selection was tough and some regular players were to miss out. The team ran out in front of a crowd of 900 which made for a great atmosphere. With the exception of a few bursts from Leod Balantine the game was mostly defensive with Welsh mounting repeated, simple but well-structured attacks. I think the final 31-7 score did not represent how competitive we were in the game.
The next spell of games was plagued by low numbers and changing combinations. As a result, and perhaps the fact we were now very unlikely to achieve our goal of promotion, a series of poor re-sults followed, starting with our only home loss of the season; Datchworth came out narrow victors 12-13. This was followed by wins against Kilburn and Tabard. Harrow, who weren’t having a great season, had players who had returned from another club. Despite some great line breaks we failed to convert them into points and Harrow scored two unanswered tries to come out on top 17-10. Next up was a trip to Cheshunt’s new artificial pitch where, despite some good attaching rugby, we lost 31-25. Royston struggling to raise a team due to a stag-do, put up a surprising fight and man-aged to score a few tries in what was mostly a one sided game where we won 89-19.
The last game of the season was a trip to the ever hospitable, Stevenage. We had a strong first half and at one point Stevenage looked down trodden and like they might fold. Ultimately their physicality kept them in the game and with a much better second half they took the win 36-23.
When all the results were in, we had finished fourth. A respectable position but not one with which we were content.
Harry Marson, Old Streetonions 1XV Captain