Albanian fall three points short of Wharfedale

Rayner lines up a kick as the bench watches

Rayner lines up a kick as the bench watches - Credit: Archant

There was excitement of one sort or another from start to finish of this rousing encounter between Wharfedale and Old Albanian.

Wharfedale kicked off and A’s opened matters with a receiving mishap which winger Scott Jordan came close to converting into a try. His grubber kick for the corner was grounded in-goal by Charlie Kingsman and the visitors worked upfield from the dropout.

Somehow Dan Solomi squirted out of a maul and hared towards the OA line only for a Wharfedale infringement to negate his efforts. Lawrence Rayner opened the visitors’ account with a penalty from 40 metres.

Tom Barrett evened the scores with a penalty of his own five minutes later.

Albanian seemed just to have the run of play at this time but careless penalties put them on the back foot.

Just into the second quarter and from a lineout five metres out a maul, containing 11 Dalesmen, charged over the OA line and Barrett had no problem with the improvement.

The margin got wider on the half hour mark when Josh Prell scampered over in the left corner.

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Albanians regrouped and drove Wharfedale back. Frustration brought an illegal arm round the ball at a ruck just five metres out and lock Richard Brown was sin-binned.

Taking immediate advantage A’s pack drove over the line and Brett McNamee emerged from the melee ball in hand. Rayner converted for a 15-10 half-time scoreline.

Albanian were still a man up for the first five minutes of the second half but two mistakes and one misfortune meant Brown returned to the fray with his side still in front.

Then 13 minutes in, Solomi repeated the first-half dash, this time he went all the way from 60 metres, Barrett converting.

A’s finally put together a definitive attack five minutes later with an irresistible driving maul finished off by Hayden Stringer. The conversion drifted wide but Rayner was on target six minutes later when Mike Allen scooted over half way out on the left to level the score at 22 apiece.

Then, with 10 minutes left, Billy Johnson saw yellow for an offence in a beleaguered scrum and a penalty try at the reset was a formality, as was Barrett’s conversion. His penalty with five minutes left should have put Wharfedale clear.

But Stef Liebenberg ensured frayed nerves to the end when he dived over two minutes later for his side’s bonus try. Rayner’s conversion brought the margin to just three points. So it ended.

On Saturday OA entertain Blackheath at Woollams, 3pm kick-off.