OAs leave it late to beat Esher

Chris Lombaard in action

Chris Lombaard in action - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian 24 Esher 22

For the second time in two home matches, Old Albanian left it until virtually the last minute to strike the killer blow, writes Brian Quinn.

However, against Richmond the first half was a tour de force and this week the good stuff was saved till the end. Quite why OAs feel it necessary to pull out all the stops only half the time is a mystery.

Head coach Andy Holloway has gone on record saying a full-on, full-time performance will ensure the team’s continued progress up the league and that opportunity starts at Hartpury on Saturday.

All bar three of the points scored in this match were scored at the same end and one would be forgiven for thinking that a howling gale was somehow to blame. Yet the elements played little part in OA’s fifth success in a row.

Ian Cross opened the scoring for the visitors with a simple penalty and Richard Gregg replied in kind after six minutes.

Esher then took control of the game, particularly in the lineout and in midfield and this was sufficient to allow them three tries, Ali Chisholm, Brandon Walker and Joe Brown the scorers. Ian Cross converted the first two and left his team with a happy 22-3 advantage at the break.

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That was as good as it got for Esher. The Old Albanian scrum had always been dominant and this advantage spread to broken play. OAs also started to make inroads into Esher’s lineout and this, coupled with a certain increase in intensity, gradually turned the tables.

Jimmy Speirs and Mike Allan both crossed the line 18 and 27 minutes into the half and a penalty try awarded after tremendous scrum pressure exerted close to the Esher line with six minutes to go left Gregg with three simple conversions to take what had once seemed an unlikely triumph.

Hartpury have had an up and down start to the year and will have felt last week’s loss to their counterparts at Loughborough keenly. This alone will make them a difficult prospect. Yet Richmond, Fylde, Coventry and Rosslyn Park have all won in Gloucestershire this season and it is up to Billy Johnson’s men to follow where these four have led. Kickoff 2.30pm.