Coach’s unusual, yet insightful, message helps OAs topple Blaydon

OA head coach Andy Holloway

OA head coach Andy Holloway - Credit: Archant

Coach gives his players unusual warning ahead of Blaydon win

‘Don’t get bored’ was the message Old Albanian head coach delivered to his players ahead of Saturday’s narrow 19-18 win over Blaydon at Woollams.

Holloway knew the visitors’ game plan was to use their powerful forwards to win penalties at midfield, kick for the corners and push over with their lineout drive. Therefore, discipline in midfield was of paramount importance.

“That was the big thing – we were guilty of it in last week’s win over Fylde,” he said. “I told the players ‘don’t get bored with what you’re doing. If you’re defending well and the opposition isn’t getting anywhere, don’t get bored of continually defending and feel you have to stick your hands in the ruck or do something to change anything. Just keep doing what you’re doing well’.

“In the last 20 minutes we didn’t give them anything around halfway.”

OAs executed Holloway’s message to perfection and instead took advantage of Blaydon’s indiscipline as Dan Watt kicked four penalties. The visitors may have recorded two tries to OA’s one, scored by skipper Billy Johnson, but they offered very little in the face of the hosts’ stout defending.

“I’m pleased with the result because they’re a good team. We knew they would be strong up front, set piece-wise and their kicking game is good,” said Holloway. “We defended very well; they had two catch and drive tries but outside of that they didn’t break down our defence at all.”

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OAs were guilty of not finishing off promising breaks into Blaydon’s territory but Watt kept the scoreboard ticking over, and it turned out to be the difference between the sides.

“We’re really luck that we have Dan, as well as Richard Gregg and, earlier in the season, Elliot Reeder. We’re talking about 80 per cent plus goal kickers so whenever we play, if teams give penalties away around the 22, they can kick it,” he said.

“He gives you an awful lot more too. He carried the ball unbelievably well, defended well, and he has a passing game, too. He was probably the difference. He kept kicking goals when they were killing the ball and we weren’t able to finish with tries.”

OAs have now recorded back-to-back wins and will travel to Wharfedale on Saturday looking to extend the run to three.