Mistakes cost OAs against Blaydon

Action from OAs games against Blaydon.

Action from OAs games against Blaydon. - Credit: Archant

TWO overriding impressions were left on supporters by this week’s offering at Woollams, writes Brian Quinn.

Action from OAs games against Blaydon.

Action from OAs games against Blaydon. - Credit: Archant

One was that almost everything seemed to take place at a slower pace than has been witnessed for most of this season, almost as if some controlling force had selected the wrong speed on an old style record player. The other was that Albanians made more mistakes in this one match than in almost any other this year.

A’s are, at present, riding the roller-coaster between failure and success and back again, going from the ‘sublime’ of last week’s win to the ‘sub prime’ of this relatively tame encounter. Plotting a graph of results for the last four fixtures will show a track descending from the heights of professionalism at Blackheath to surrender against Loughborough, then back up to victory versus Esher only for the switchback to head down once more for the visit of Blaydon.

There have certainly been changes of personnel to contend with. Injuries and representative appearances have rendered anything up to a dozen players unavailable in recent weeks and this would shake the fabric of any established side; however those players who have stepped into the gaps (like new boys from Cambridge University Daniel Holmes and William Briggs) have, to say the least, not been found wanting. James Shanahan’s men can be thankful that there is now this strength in depth. The formula did not quite work last weekend.

Another bigger pack faced OAs this week but that can have come as no surprise bearing in mind what happened in the reverse fixture last October. In the opening stages of this game play moved gradually into the OA 22 where Rob Bell was pulled over the try line by the rest of his forwards with just four minutes gone. Jamie Guy added the conversion.

Eight minutes later this pair repeated their double act, this time after a clever short lineout. The visitors had disdained the easier penalty chance giving notice to Albanians of their intent to make their forward advantage count.

Play did then move to the Blaydon half but errors were already evident as Albanians coughed up possession in promising situations or conceded needless penalties and free kicks.

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The sparkle returned for OAs just before half time when Lawrence Rayner and Chris May combined expertly to allow Brett McNamee the gap he needed to reach the line. Rayner converted to narrow the difference at the interval to seven points.

The points advantage was restored for Blaydon twelve minutes after the restart when Zach Kibiridge took the only pass he received all game and showed a clean pair of heels to the defence on the Albanian right. Quite why the fastest man on the field should be thus ignored, apart from this one instance, even the visiting management were unable to answer after the match. Guy converted safely.

Max Crumpton became the second OA hooker to score when, towards the end of the third quarter, the home forwards successfully drove their opponents back in a display of what might have been. Rayner added the extras to reduce the gap to seven points again.

The error malaise ensured another win against more fancied opposition was not to be when flanker Keith Laughlin drove over after A’s had given away another free kick at the engagement of a scrum. Guy converted for the fourth time. Crumpton’s yellow card with less than a quarter of an hour to play pretty much ensured there would be no way back for Albanians.

Albanians have a day of rest next week and renew the struggle against Sedgley Tigers on March 2nd. The next home game will be against League leaders Ealing Trailfinders a week later.