OAs outmuscled by Rosslyn Park

Winning run comes to an end in Roehampton

Rosslyn Park 36

Old Albanian 19

National league One

It was no surprise to see that Rosslyn Park’s forwards were a robust, forthright bunch writes Brian Quinn.

Albanian have been meeting such opposition all season and, after a period of ‘acclimatisation’ have learned, for the most part, to absorb pressure up front for a considerable period of time and eventually let loose with a back division which is amongst the best in the league. This served very well at Fylde and Ealing and at home to Coventry; Park were that little bit more hard-nosed and the greater power exerted by their pack for most of this game allowed too little quality possession for the visitors’ trademark attacking speed.

The weather and the resulting heavy ground were not conducive to an outright running game and mistakes abounded for both sides throughout the contest. Players regularly lost their footing in slippery conditions and more than once possession was lost to knock-ons and forward passes. Having said that Park were able to deal with this adversity better than their opponents and were worth the difference in points at the end. They are, after all, front runners in the race to the Championship and it will take a very special team to successfully challenge at Roehampton.

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Albanians can take much from this match. Meeting a top quality pack is not every forward’s idea of a pleasant afternoon but this experience is vital to a strong consolidation in this league. Andy Daishe’s men were not found wanting by much and if lessons are learned they can be demonstrated to Macclesfield and Richmond in the coming weeks. There was little to choose from the two sets of outsides but it is probably fair to say that Terry Adams’ burst in the final quarter gave Albanian supporters a taste of what might have been. Had his pass gone to hand the score would have been closer.

The defence, for the most part, was up to the task and the back row got through a phenomenal amount of work, regularly turning defence into attack. Against lesser sides this will bring rewards. Mark Evans and Lawrence Rayner started as half backs for the first time this season and can be very happy with their contributions, Evans clearing well when the pack was under pressure and Rayner progressing every week in distribution and defence.

If this match had a turning point it probably occurred just before half time when two Park forwards were sin-binned, Ovens in the 24th minute and Ellis three minutes later. The opportunity to put points on the board with the hosts two men short passed Albanians by. Rugby is unforgiving at this level.

Park had scored the first try of the game when Dan Richmond benefitted from a rolling maul. Sam Katz converted and added three penalties in the half. Richard Gregg also notched three penalties to make the score at the break 16-9.

The penalty count continued in the second period. Katz goaled two more and was on his way to a third when the Albanian crossbar intervened. Gregg obliged with his fourth penalty after 18 minutes. With 10 minutes left Jack Gash finished off another Park pushover and although Katz converted again Ollie Cooper-Millar replied in kind for the visitors two minutes later. Gregg added the extras. Charles Broughton completed the only flowing Park backs move wide out on the right with four minutes to go. The metronomic Katz brought his points total for the day to twenty one with a fine conversion.

Macclesfield visit Woollams for the first time next Saturday and they will have their tails up after their fine win against Wharfedale this week. Even though they languish towards the foot of the table their pedigree is good enough to remind OAs that only the best will do. Kick-off 3pm.

Old Albanian: Gregg, Speirs, Adams, Lombaard, May; Rayner, Evans; Ruskin, Crumpton, Cade, Bickle, Hamilton, Daish (c), Hankin, Chambers.

Replacements: Cope, MacDougall, Johnson, Collins, Cooper-Millar.