UCS stun Thamesians with second-half comeback

UCS Old Boys in action earlier in the season (pic: Nick Cook)

UCS Old Boys in action earlier in the season (pic: Nick Cook) - Credit: Archant

Herts/Middlesex One: Thamesians 22 UCS Old Boys 26

On a characteristically miserable December afternoon in Twickenham, there was only one game that mattered as UCS Old Boys returned to winning ways with an exhilarating 26-22 victory at Herts/Middlesex One rivals Thamesians.

The West Hampstead-based club made a slow start, however, and found themselves 14-0 down within the opening 10 minutes as Thamesians’ high-tempo game yielded two tries for the home side which were duly converted.

This seemed to rally Old Boys who started to put together some well-structured phases of their own, each of the pack making yards against a solid Thamesians defence.

This ultimately led to the away side’s first try of the afternoon as Tom Arnold showed good speed and footwork to exploit a gap in the hosts’ backline before dotting down in the corner.

Despite losing physical prop Ahmed Ghanem to a hamstring injury on the 30-minute mark, the momentum stayed with UCS for the remainder of the first half.

Aombination of stubborn Thamesians tackling and several missed chances, however, resulted in Old Boys being unable to add to their earlier score.

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UCS were again caught flat-footed at the start of the second-half, with the away side conceding an unconverted try and penalty shortly after the restart to leave plenty to do at 22-5 down.

However, Old Boys regained their composure and began to once again put pressure on the home side.

After a spell of prolonged territory in the Thamesians 22, Chris Oulton intercepted a loose pass and made solid ground before being hauled down just short of the line.

The ball was recycled, and good hands out wide led to captain Chris Bean running over several would-be tacklers to score wide of the posts for a try which was well converted by Cornelius Jansen van Vuuren.

The away side were now starting to find their rhythm, and after a number of ruinous carries from the increasingly dominant UCS pack, Thamesians infringed at the breakdown to give Old Boys a penalty in the oppositions’ 22.

This was taken quickly by Bean, who found centre partner Arnold running a typically robust line to score his second try of the afternoon which was subsequently converted by van Vuuren as UCS cut the gap to 22-19.

For the first time in the match, Old Boys were in touching distance of their hosts and the away side continued to turn the screw with meaningful yards being gained all over the pitch, resulting in another foray into the oppositions’ 22.

Finding some space down the blindside, Liam Clarke brought UCS within touching distance of the Thamesians line, before a blatant off-the-ball tackle on van Vuuren prevented a certain try for the fly-half.

The referee was well-positioned and duly gave the penalty try, which took Old Boys into the lead for the first time in the match.

Thereafter, the away side maintained their composure as they controlled the final stages, not giving their hosts a chance to respond, and UCS held on for a victory that was no less than they deserved against a skilful and physical Thamesians side.