UCS Old Boys earn first away win with victory over basement boys Old Streetonians

Laurent Stephenson (centre) scored UCS Old Boys' opening try. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Laurent Stephenson (centre) scored UCS Old Boys' opening try. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

UCS Old Boys overcame basement boys Old Streetonians 24-14 to earn their first away win of the season and jump two places up the table in London North-West Division Three.

Damir Jovanovic on the charge for UCS. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Damir Jovanovic on the charge for UCS. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

UCS had lost their previous four games, leaving them in the bottom three, but the visitors ran in four tries on a cold, wet day and left Hackney Marshes with a much-needed victory and a bonus point.

Coach Carl Bradshaw said: “We dug deep in tough conditions and played them well to get the win. It wasn’t the prettiest game to watch but it was a great win nonetheless.”

With injuries and unavailability in the front row it was left to veteran prop Mike Dowding, back row forward Damir Jovanovic and Chris Bean to front up, with the latter making his first start of the season.

The Old Boys started brightly with some slick passing moves and strong runs deep into the home side’s half, but the conditions and indiscipline meant chances were not taken.

With barely 10 minutes gone, prop Dowding pulled his calf and was unable too continue, so Paul Dillon replaced him for his second game of the campaign and Daniel Chapman moved up to prop.

Any concerns about the scrum proved unfounded as the set piece was equal, and UCS were dominating in the line-out. Bean’s throwing was extremely accurate and both James May and Stefan Filip were stealing ball or putting the oppositions catchers under pressure.

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Eventually the pressure told and fly-half Liam Greany scythed through a gap before slipping a little inside pass to the supporting Laurent Stepehnson, who ran in under the posts for a try which was converted by Rory Gibson.

UCS’s habitual indiscipline then reared its head again with May and Sam Wilson both being sinbinned within five minutes of each other, leaving the visitors with 13 men. And, although some magnificent defence initially held Old Street out, the home side eventually managed to break through and level the scores at 7-7 at the interval.

Both sides battled to hold on to a slippery ball after the restart and the home side exerted strong pressure – but Gibson intercepted a loose pass and went in under the posts to re-establish the Old Boys’ lead.

UCS now realised that the way to win was to kick the ball deep and make the home side work their way back up the pitch. This tactic, combined with drives close to the ruck, gave the away team control on the game.

And, after being camped in the home side’s 22 for multiple stages, Jovanovic powered over to score, capping his immense individual performance at prop.

Shortly after, Greany had to leave the field with a cut eyelid, but he returned to the fray when flanker Chris Stickle had to leave the field with an ankle injury. This led to veteran centre Matt Jacobs moving to the back row for the final quarter of the match – and it was he who scored the fourth try, pouncing on a spilled ball after a fine kick had left Old Street defending their line.

There was a final twist in the dying minutes as Old Streetonians were awarded a penalty try when a UCS defender deliberately knocked the ball backwards over the try line. But it came too late as the visitors ran out victorious.

UCS Old Boys: Stewart, Stephenson, Gibson, Jacobs, Wilson, Greany, O’Dwyer, Dowding (Dillon) Bean, Jovanovic, May, Chapman, Stickle (Hastings) Filip, Walton.