OAs edge Sedgley in narrow one

OAs v Sedgley Park

OAs v Sedgley Park - Credit: Archant

DESPITE loud protestations to the contrary it is obvious Albanians just didn’t take their latest opponents seriously enough, writes Brian Quinn.

It is only too well remembered that A’s have at least once come unstuck against a side mired in the relegation zone this season and it seems the lesson has not yet been fully absorbed.

Sedgley had won just once this calendar year and that had been at Wharfedale a fortnight previously. Between that and last Saturday’s encounter there had been the little matter of a nine try towsing at the hands of visitors Fylde in a punishing local derby. Well there is nothing quite so dangerous as a wounded opponent and Tigers were to show no sign of their hurt from their experience the week before.

Albanians had had a week’s rest since the loss to Blaydon and their disappointment at that result should have acted as serious motivation at Park Lane. Indeed the first few minutes of the match started brightly enough for the vistors who dominated the opening exchanges and it was no real surprise to have that advantage turned into points when Johannes Lombaard crossed half way out. The conversion floated narrowly wide; for the next twenty minutes so did OA resolve.

Jamie Harrison, with his first of a brace, Steve Collins, an influential fly half and Andrew Riley all touched down in what remained of the first quarter. Harrison’s effort came when he showed a fine turn of pace down the left flank as Albanians eased off after their initial success. Matt Riley converted all three and went on to register a personal haul of thirteen points from the game.

Now sixteen points adrift James Shanahan’s men re-entered the fray and gradually worked out of their recent torpor. It has to be said there was nothing wrong with the possession they were gaining or the territory they were occupying but little errors and wrong options were taking their toll. Scrum and lineout went well but attention to detail, particularly at the breakdown, lacked the finesse required to really prosper at this level. Tigers had taken all their chances and were to continue to do so.

Ross Hamilton now took a hand and powered over for the first of his two tries with fifteen minutes still left in the half. Richard Gregg added the extras to bring the deficit down to nine points only for Harrison and Riley to increase it again with a bonus point try and conversion just before the break.

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Hamilton took his second opportunity well three minutes after the restart but ten minutes later loose play allowed No8 Jon Bishop enough of a gap to broach OA defences. That man Riley converted safely.

The final quarter belonged to Albanians but it was a nerve-wracking time for the visitors. In a two minute purple patch James Speirs and Ollie Marchon sped over the Tigers line after good approach work and Gregg converted the latter effort. Riley replied with a sharp drop goal but it was six minutes from time when Terry Adams put his side within range of Sedgley’s total. Shanners himself scored A’s seventh and final try leaving supporters wondering why this one point victory could not have been accomplished in somewhat more commanding style.

Though bitterly disappointed Sedgley were proud of their efforts and it is to be hoped they will have helped Albanians highlight weaknesses which league leaders Ealing will certainly exploit next Saturday. Kickoff at Woollams 3pm.