OAs need one of their best performances at Hartpury, says skipper

Billy Johnson

Billy Johnson - Credit: Archant

Billy Johnson insists Old Albanian will have to put in one of the biggest performances of the season against Hartpury College at Woollams on Saturday.

With three games remaining in National League One, Old Albanian and Cinderford are locked in a battle for survival. OAs are currently safe, but Cinderford closed the gap to three points last Saturday with a bonus-point win over Fylde.

Macclesfield have already been relegated and Tynedale, OA’s final day opponents, will have to win all of their games, and pick up bonus points, to stand any chance of avoiding the drop.

All in all, it makes for a tense end to the season.

“To call it a massive game is an understatement – it’s do or die for us,” said Johnson.

“We know the importance of the game and how well we can play. We know we can get the win but it’ll take one of the biggest performances of the season. And it’ll be the same the week after, and week after that.”

Sixth-placed Hartpury beat OAs 15-10 in December with a try in the final minute of the game. It was a loss that ended a five-game winning streak.

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Johnson is determined not to lose again, and believes his team has the players in place, and the ability, to score plenty of tries.

“We need to cut out the errors that give teams points,” he explained. “We can certainly score the tries needed to win; we just need to cut out the errors in the forwards and have no slips of concentration in the backs. If we stop giving them easy scoring opportunities then we should be good for the win.

“The way we’re playing, we’re good enough to beat them.”

With so much riding on the final three games, the players could be forgiven for letting nerves into the camp. The captain doesn’t see a team about to wilt under the pressure of a survival scrap.

“The mood is good. Everyone is up for the challenge and knows the importance of it,” he said.

“We’re a small squad but we’re a tight squad. Everyone is aware and knows what needs to be done and, importantly, they think it can be done.”