Fight in the old boys yet as Albanian secure possibly vital win over Elthamians

Skipper Ross Hamilton helped drive his Old Albanian side to victory. Picture: Kevin Lines

Skipper Ross Hamilton helped drive his Old Albanian side to victory. Picture: Kevin Lines - Credit: Archant

If Old Albanian do lose their battle with relegation from National One it won’t be because of a lack of fight.

The Woollams-based rugby club came out on top with a 34-29 win against Old Elthamians in a battle between the country’s two most senior Old Boys sides.

A full-blooded battle was enjoyed by a large and sporting crowd as two mighty packs collided before spinning the ball to two talented sets of backs.

Albanian scored first but Ross Hamilton’s men weren’t able to clinch the win until five minutes from time.

Tom Bednall fired over two penalties before converting a try by Alex Post who crossed after a carefully worked assault in left field.

Elthamians regrouped and within minutes of each other Ben King and Nathan Morris scored almost identical tries after being driven over from short line-out mauls.

Tom White improved both to give OEs the narrowest of leads and, as it turned out, short-lived as Nick Foster was himself driven to the line just before the interval, Bednall successful from the touchline.

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White closed the gap to 20-17 with a penalty seven minutes after the restart before the dogfight began.

Speedy wing James Golledge regained the Elthamian lead but not close enough to the sticks for White’s kick. Then with nearly a quarter left Harry Elbrow charged off the side of a scrum and tore through a fractured defence by the right corner flag.

Bednall’s aim was unerring.

Ollie Claxton and White’s conversion turned things round again in a breathless finale but it took until the 75th minute for the match decider.

The Elthamian lineout misfired for almost the first time on the afternoon and Morgan Thompson was able to slip in skipper Hamilton for the bonus point and the win.

Bednall again made no mistake with the tricky conversion.

Four nervous minutes remained and certainly one penalty was conceded by Albanians too close to their line for comfort. But the defence held and OAs now prepare for the visit of Plymouth next Saturday.

With two games remaining, OAs remain six points away from safety and their fate could be decided on Saturday, depending on results.