First trial run goes well for OAs

Billy Johnson

Billy Johnson - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian could have been forgiven for being a mite nervous when turning out against Championship opponents in this first of three tough pre-season outings and Ampthill, newly promoted to National One, were always going to be hard to overcome, writes Brian Quinn.

It turned out to be a largely satisfactory day for OAs, who mustered a sound defence for most of the day and managed some sprightly attacks against both the hosts and their fellow visitors.

Against Bedford the pack put in some tremendous work and gained parity in possession and position for most of the 40 minutes. The lineout worked well all afternoon and that and forceful loose play ensured plenty of good ball for Jordi Pasqualin and James Shanahan to get their young back line working.

Two breakaway tries by speedy outsides gave Bedford the advantage and two more, worked well by their pack, completed the scoring. OAs counted themselves unlucky not to have two tries of their own but their finishing was not quite good enough to counter the two league difference. Yet the encounter provided useful experience throughout.

Ampthill, fielding two ex-Albanians in the centre, provided plenty of bite up front and deservedly took the lead five minutes in. Most of the next half hour belonged to Billy Johnson’s men and Mike Allan’s startling pace took him outside the Ampthill defence to equalise after a great line break by Jimmy Speirs. Nick Foster, always a threat, touched down the winning score five minutes from the end. Stout OA defence ensured desperate Ampthill attacks were repulsed for the remainder of the contest.

Head coach James Shanahan pronounced himself very pleased with his squad’s performance despite an uncomfortable first 15 minutes against Bedford. Nobody was found wanting in any department and it will be seen how the team have benefitted when they take on old friends Richmond at Woollams this Saturday. Kick-off 3pm.