‘Every point could prove to be vital’ for Old Albanian says head coach after leaving Darlington Mowden Park with a bonus

Old Albanian's coach Gavin Hogg. Picture: KARYN HADDON

Old Albanian's coach Gavin Hogg. Picture: KARYN HADDON - Credit: Archant

A jig of delight down the touchline from Old Albanian head coach Gavin Hogg showed you exactly how important the bonus point secured in the final minute of the defeat to Darlington Mowden Park was.

Having trailed from the second minute in the 52-24 National One defeat at the Northern Echo Arena, the Woollams-based rugby club had given themselves hope for a four-try bonus point by scoring twice in the space of five second-half minutes.

And with the clock already beyond the 80-minute mark, Matthew Deane’s score sent the visiting staff and support into raptures.

It still leaves OAs second from bottom of the table but keeps them in touch of safety.

Hogg said: “When you find yourself in the position we have, every point could prove to be vital.

“We sat down at Christmas and reviewed where we were and we knew we had two tough games at Coventry and Mowden Park where we were going to have to scrap for everything and try and get something out of them.

“We came up here with a much-changed side from what it has been in previous weeks and we spoke about letting the handbrake off and having a real go.

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“We knew at times we were going to be outplayed and it would be a challenge for us defensively and that we were going to have to live off little mistakes.

“But we give ourselves a fighting chance at the end with that bit of pressure and we are delighted to come away with a bonus point.

“Hopefully we can take that battling effort forward and if we can take that level of heart and enthusiasm into games where we are playing teams in and around us, it gives us a really good chance of picking up some more wins.”

Park showed why they sit second behind Coventry at the top of the table, especially in the first half but Hogg praised the resilience of his squad.

“We were up against a side that moved the ball very quickly and accurately into the wide channel,” said the OA boss. “That really tested us.

“We couldn’t make an impact at the breakdown in terms of slowing down the ball because the ball was beating us wide before we could get players around the corners.

“I thought DMP played a fantastic brand of rugby.

“The guys were really on their knees at half-time because of the effort they had put in defensively.

“The couple of times we did get a hold of the ball it was around our 22 and we had to give it back again.

“We can be really pleased though. The intercept try [from Joe Bridger] gave us confidence and a momentum shift and gave us a way back into the game.

“We’ll go back home, we’ve got a tough game against Blackheath next week but then we’re into a run of games against sides in and around us and hopefully it will give us the opportunity of getting some league points on the board.”