OA on target for play-offs
National Three London & SE Bracknell 8 Old Albanian 23 OLD ALBANIAN consolidated their second place in the league with a powerful controlled performance away at a formidable Bracknell side who were lying one place below in the table. In fact this was to
National Three London & SE
Bracknell 8 Old Albanian 23
OLD ALBANIAN consolidated their second place in the league with a powerful controlled performance away at a formidable Bracknell side who were lying one place below in the table.
In fact this was to be a defining point for the season for one of the clubs as the winning team would be placed in a very strong position for the play-offs at the end of the season and the prospect of promotion, with Jersey already set for Second Division rugby next season.
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The home team applied all the pressure in the first 10 minutes which OA calmly absorbed through typical bullocking runs out of defence by James Ellersahw, some neat gathering and clearance kicks from Tom Chesters and cheeky sniping runs from Mark Evans.
After 10 minutes OA were given the opportunity to test the huge Bracknell pack with two very telling scrums. Bracknell then failed with their first penalty attempt.
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OA finally got their hands on the ball and Dene Miller got away with the first of his many tantalising runs of the afternoon, after good work from Chesters, Simon Lincoln, back from injury and Terry Adams.
Again Ellershaw was on the charge, Miller broke, Chesters wriggled out of a tackle to make good ground but Bracknell survived.
OA should have scored through these phases but a couple of spilled passes spoiled the party.
With both teams trying to play a wide game, there were more chances that went begging from both sides. Richard Gregg missed a difficult penalty attempt after half an hour, the Bracknell flanker was binned for 10 minutes for a high tackle and Gregg finally broke the deadlock with a fine penalty.
Almost from the restart, OA won a scrum against the head and Ross Hamilton, who had a wonderful game at No.8, and Bennett made telling yards putting further pressure on the home side, who gave away another penalty which Gregg knocked over.
Bracknell replied quickly with a successful penalty, after Bennett had been isolated.
OA then really took the game to Bracknell in the second half and never allowed the home team to settle.
Mark Coombs, Adams, Tryfan Edwards and Miller all featured strongly in attack but it was the OA defence, so much the strength of the side this season, which hammered away at the strong Bracknell runners and nullified every attack.
It was a huge credit to The Woollams Men that not one first tackle was missed all afternoon. Gregg was successful with another penalty and Lincoln and Chesters stood firm under the high balls being cannoned at them.
Chris May came on to replace the injured Chesters and Simon Lye then came off the bench to take over from Alex Bennett.
Two further penalty attempts were missed before the OA struck the killer blow. From a good scrum, Hamilton went blind to feed Evans who ran powerfully with an inside step to wriggle over for a try which stunned the home supporters.
Suddenly OA were 16-3 up with 15 minutes to play. Miller hoisted a big kick out of defence and scorched down the wing to re-gather, only to be tackled short of the line.
It was now all Old Albanian's with skipper Lawrence White and pack leader, Gregg Botterman, superbly supported by Aaron Tawaera bringing all their experience to bear.
Coombs, dominant in the lineout, stole another and Hamilton made big gains off the back of the scrum.
From an attempted drop goal by Gregg, which bounced off a Bracknell player, Adams hit the Bracknell scrum-half to dispossess him. May kicked on, gathered and scored under the posts to make it 23-3 in favour of OA.
The game was over but for a consolation try for Bracknell, in the last five minutes, made by the exhausted rumbling Bracknell pack.
Next week, Old Albanian travel to Haywards Heath in confident mood with all to play for.