Back-to-back wins for OAs

Old Albanian beat Cinderford 14-8 on Saturday.

Old Albanian beat Cinderford 14-8 on Saturday. - Credit: Archant

Cinderford 8 Old Albanian 14

It’s a matter of comparisons, writes Brian Quinn. But it depends heavily what you compare last Saturday’s exhibition with whether you are pleased or nervous about the result.

Firstly, and in stark contrast with this match last season, Albanians came away with the win, which in current circumstances is a matter for joy. Secondly, pack and backs combined better than on most occasions this year, though not quite as well as the previous week.

Thirdly, the visitors mastered the boggy conditions better than their opponents who should be used to heavy going by now. In this matter the tight forwards should be proud of their achievements in the scrum since it was Cinderford who dissolved into disarray midway through the second period.

Fourthly the tries were shared between forwards and backs, always a nice touch.

However, managing a wet weather game is an art and Albanians diced with disaster in the last quarter of the contest. By this time Cinderford had shown their ability to run the ball back to their forwards when presented with the opportunity. This, combined with the hosts’ strong rolling maul, should have had alarm bells ringing in Albanian ranks.

Yet time and again the box kick was lofted into the air and into the face of the strong breeze when perhaps a better option would have been to let the back row take it on. After all there’s not much your opponent can do if you deny him possession and there is always the possibility he will cough up a penalty.

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Talking of which, the penalty count was 21-6 in Albanian favour which would seem to indicate that OA discipline was better than last year. That is a matter of record although in the second period Andy Berry was dismissed for fighting along with his opposite number. Strangely, although hardly a blow was struck, and the two players, unbidden, immediately shook hands they were both sent from the field.

It took hosts and officials a full seven minutes to sort out what was happening next in light of the arcane regulations at this level and a hooker ended up at tight head for Cinderford. He did not have the happiest of times on the run up to no side!

The hosts had taken the lead with a Lloyd Evans penalty but then had flanker George Mills sin-binned. Ollie Cooper-Millar drove over from close range and outside half Richard Gregg converted. Gregg also improved Chris Lombaard’s clinical strike after he had brushed off an ineffectual tackle. That summed up the scoring.

It is worth noting that several regulars were missing from this side including Brett MacNamee, Andrew Daish, probably out till the New Year, and talismanic skipper Billy Johnson, all of which puts a certain gloss on this victory.

However, all will realise that the rise in league position to the top of the relegation zone means there is much work to be done. This must start when Richmond visit Woollams next Saturday, Kick-off 3pm.