OAs bounce back to beat Darlington

Max Wilkins tries to slip a tackle

Max Wilkins tries to slip a tackle - Credit: Archant

OAs respond to Hartpury loss with win over Darlington Mowden Park

Chris Lombaards’s double secured Old Albanian their sixth win in seven games, beating Darlington Mowden Park 29-21 at Woollams in the National League One.

Mid-way through the first half captain Billy Johnson’s converted try gave the hosts a deserved lead but the scores were level at the break from James Barnard’s finish.

OA’s looked like prophets of doom in a superb second half performance to earn a commanding lead after Lombaard two tries and another from Brett McNamee.

A late rally from Darlington’s Robert Conquest and another from Barnard was not enough to deny their superior hosts another win.

One place and two points separated the sides ahead of the contest, with the relegation zone potentially beckoning for the loser.

In a low-key opening, where the home side shaded the possession and territory, both sides struggled to break down resolute defences.

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The contest, along with the spirited crowd, were crying out for a score and in the 25th minute they weren’t disappointed as captain Johnson thundered over and Richard Gregg added the extras.

The more cohesive OAs, led by standout performances from the captain and the rampaging Sam Lunnon, were being plagued by their indiscipline and Darlington’s potent pack but the visitor’s wayward attack and misfiring lineout failed to capitalise.

Right on the stroke of half-time, the relatively untroubled home defence were cut open with surgical precision and Barnard sauntered over and Thomas Hodgson brilliantly converted.

OAs flew out of the blocks courtesy of an interception from onrushing centre Lombaard who galloped over for a 12-7 lead.

Buoyed by their opportunism, the galvanised home side were rekindling the swagger that had brought them five consecutive wins and following a flowing move Lombaard grabbed his second and Gregg’s penalty stretched their lead to 15 points.

Belying their lowly position of 13th, the irrepressible OAs, orchestrated by man of the match Jordi Pasqualin, were effortlessly cutting apart the powerless visitors and hooker McNamee burrowed over for a converted try in front of the posts.

The seemingly deflated visitors were given a glimmer of hope as Barnard’s kick and chase reduced their arrears and a second moments later from Conquest set up a nervy finish.

But OAs held on for an important and deserved win over their relegation rivals and will travel to table toppers Ealing Trailfinders next weekend in confident mood.

Old Albanians:

1) Steve Neville (2) Brett McNamee (3) Andrew Berry (4) Ross Hamilton (5) Billy Johnson © (6) Oliver Copper-Millar (7) Nicholas Stevens (8) Samuel Lunnon (9) Jordi Pasqualin (10) Richard Gregg (11) Michael Allan (12) Max Wilkins (13) Chris Lombaard (14) James Spiers (15) Oliver Marchon

Subs: 16) Scott Wright (17) Charlie Hughes (18) Jon Phillips (19) Dan Watt (20) Christopher May

Darlington Mowden Park:

1) Gareth Nesbit (2) Matthew Thompson (3) Matthew Shields (4) Talite Vaioleti (5) Robert Conquest (6) Joseph Maud (7) Jack Allcock (8) Rory Duff (9) Adam Nixon (10) Thomas Hodgson (11) James Barnard (12) Callum Mackenzie (13) Cameron Mitchell © (14) Christopher Miturk (15) Henry Robinson

Subs: (16) Charlie Maddison (17) Ralph Appelby (18) George Hedgley (19) Grant Connon (20) Benjamin Rath

Referee: Veryan Boscawen