Relegation fears growing for Old Albanian as Esher and Harding turn the screw

PUBLISHED: 13:42 14 February 2018 | UPDATED: 13:45 14 February 2018

Morgan Thompson got three of the Old Albanian points at Esher. Picture: NEIL BALDWIN PHOTOGRAPHY

Morgan Thompson got three of the Old Albanian points at Esher. Picture: NEIL BALDWIN PHOTOGRAPHY

Archant

Old Albanian’s hopes of beating the drop in National One took a further body blow as they lost 24-8 away to Esher.

The result means the Woollams-based rugby club are now 12 points behind Loughborough Students and safety with just eight games left to play.

There is always hope of course, with A’s still to host the Students next month, but time is not the friend of Gavin Hogg’s side.

This trip to Surrey saw Albanian come face to face with a formidable scrum, one which Esher and Billy Harding took full advantage of.

The Esher number two would have thoroughly enjoyed the rest of his weekend after bagging a hat-trick of tires, an impressive feat for a front row.

Albanian had first use of the substantial breeze at Molesey Road but made a series of errors in the early stages.

And soon after the start Esher’s scrum power reared its head and became evident.

The line-out fortunately was fairly even but it was after the first Esher scrum success that Harding made his initial incursion. Paul Roberts converted.

This prompted a vigorous response from the visitors who drove to the Esher 22.

Tom Bednall’s penalty hit the post but within moments Joe Bridger kicked on for the try. However, Bednall missed his second kick.

Harding scored again on the half-hour and a fortunate bounce allowed Cadan Murley over on the left.

It left OAs trailing 19-5 at the interval.

They got the first score in the second half, Morgan Thompson reducing the deficit with a penalty as the clock closed in on the hour mark.

But after another OA penalty concession Harding grabbed his third.

Bishop’s Stortford visit Woollams on Saturday in the first of three must-win games for Albanian.

The Hertfordshire rivals are having a fine season and sit seventh in the table with 11 wins and one draw from their 21 games do far.

After that OAs go to basement side Fylde before the visit of the Students.

It keeps their fate in their own hands for now. Albanian supporters will hope they grasp it tightly.

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