Kolade’s treble leads Old Cooperians to success
PUBLISHED: 17:53 11 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:53 11 February 2017
Ipswich 17 Old Cooperians 25
Kolade Awobowale’s first-half hat-trick helped Cooperians claim a bonus-point win over London Two North East rivals Ipswich in snowy Suffolk.
The prolific winger touched down three times in quick succession to help the visitors build a notable lead and some sterling defensive work either side of the break ensured they returned to Upminster in buoyant mood.
Ipswich applied early pressure in the Coopers half, before a decisive break by scrum-half Tom Morgan led to Awobowale’s first try of the afternoon in the right corner.
But the home side hit back soon after when a quick tap penalty inside the Coopers 22 saw the ball moved to the right and it was taken in at the corner.
Awobowale restored his side’s lead as he showed his lightning pace to win the race to a grubber kick from captain Harry Fayers and grounded the ball for a second time.
And Fayers then produced a scything run through the Ipswich defence, before unselfishly sending Awobowale in for a third time and he ran around towards the posts to set up an easier conversion for Morgan to make it 17-5.
The hosts rallied and put heavy pressure on the Cooperians line, but dogged work by Lloyd Pullen and the rest of the pack kept them at bay for a time, before the ball was moved to the left for an overlap and the winger dived in at the corner to cut the gap to seven points at half time.
Coopers were quickly back out of the dressing room for the second half as snow continued to fall, but failed to settle, and prop Nathaniel John spun into space and unselfishly sent fly-half Craig Ratford over from close range to open up a 12-point gap and secure the four-try bonus point.
The remainder of the match developed into a real war of attrition, as Coopers soaked up pressure with a series of big tackles from Sam John and Ryan Leader and produced some good work at the breakdown, from the likes of Greg Fox.
Newcomers Jason Ox and Connor O’Toole played their parts in the pack, but there was agony for Lewis Nichols, who came on for his first appearance since dislocating his knee cap in September and produced a darting run through midfield, only to suffer a blow to his right knee that saw him limp off once again.
And Ipswich set up a tense finale when their forwards carried the ball close to the line and it was grounded to the right of the posts, for their scrum-half to convert and make it a five-point game.
Cooperians were quickly back on the front foot, as centres Tony Bly and Noel Evans continued to carry the ball well, and threatened the home line again, but Morgan just failed to finish off a move, before slotting a penalty to give his side some breathing space once again.
Ratford pulled another penalty wide of the posts in the final minutes, but Cooperians had done enough to ensure a hard-fought triumph.
Cooperians: Fayers, Awobowale, Evans, Bly, Wheatley, Ratford, Morgan; N John, Flowers, S John, Fox, Leader, Reed, Ox, Pullen. Replacements: Qela, O’Toole, Nichols.