Cinderford confirm Old Albanian’s relegation

OA's attack against Tynedale

OA's attack against Tynedale - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian’s relegation to National League Two was confirmed today despite a fantastic win over Tynedale at Woollams.

While OAs were running in seven tries in a 50-29 victory, their fate was sealed 120 miles away in Gloucestershire as Cinderford, their relegation rivals, beat Esher 33-17 to cement their place in National League One.

OAs needed five points to stand any chance of survival and they achieved it in the first half. Unfortunately for James Shanahan’s side, Cinderford did the same on the way to their fourth bonus-point win in a row, all but ending the relegation battle before either game restarted after half-time.

Old Albanian made a real fist of it and took the lead inside a minute. The hosts secured a lineout and flipped the ball to George Perkins who broke through Tynedale’s line and turned on the burners to beat the covering defence to touch down under the posts, giving Dan Watt an easy conversion.

Optimism was put on hold as Tynedale hit straight back. Will Miller burst through two tackles and a lineout drive surged over. Brett Connon added one conversion to put Tynedale 12-7 ahead.

Ollie Cooper-Millar restored the home crowd’s faith after excellent work from Jimmy Speirs. Watt added the extras to put OAs back in front and then set up Mike Allan for his first try before kicking the conversion to extend the lead.

Knock-ons and hard tackling from Tynedale saw chances wasted by the hosts but the bonus-point try was secured in the 33rd minute by Mike Allan’s speed. Perkins passed him the ball on the halfway line and, with nowhere to go but straight, Allan put his head down to outrun full-back Rob Parker and dive over in the corner. The kick was too much for Watt, who sliced it wide.

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Nicholas Cairns continued the back-and-forth affair with a try for Tynedale in the corner but Old Albanian had the last say in the half. The visitors did excellently to stop a lineout drive but scrum-half Jordi Pasqualin saw a gap and darted over, bringing the half-time score to 33-17.

The score at Cinderford filtered around the ground, and despite Esher getting a late consolation try in the half, OA’s survival challenge was over.

For all the attacking rugby in the first period, both defences improved in the second, although both teams continued to create scoring opportunities.

Tynedale reduced to deficit to 11 points with a second lineout drive try, but Old Albanian restored their advantage when Sam Lunnon set up captain Billy Johnson to score. Richard Gregg kicked the conversion and added three points, the only penalty attempt in the game, after Peter Weightman had dotted down for Tynedale.

Johnson and Lunnon switched roles in the final move of the game as the no.8 brought up 50 points for OAs, although it was all in vain as relegation was confirmed.