OAs pipped by Wharfedale at Woollams

Hughes goes over to score in his last game for the club

Hughes goes over to score in his last game for the club - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian and Wharfedale clubs have had a chequered time of it since the New Year, writes Brian Quinn.

Both sides have beaten Esher but Wharfedale have lost to Coventry, Henley, Blaydon and Hull. Albanians have triumphed against these last four but came second to Richmond, Tynedale, Rosslyn Park and Doncaster. A’s seemed to be the form team but, as has been shown so often, it’s impossible to predict in National One.

As it turned out the Yorkshiremen took their chances better than the hosts in a match which, at one point, seemed to be running way out of control for Albanians. Certainly the visiting half backs, especially live wire scrum half Phil Woodhead, took advantage early on when opportunity offered and his partner Tom Barrett put in an inch perfect kick for wing Scott Jordan to run onto. Barrett converted safely.

Jordan’s second followed an interception on half way which Barrett also improved. Such carelessness would come back to haunt the hosts by the end of the afternoon.

Charlie Hughes celebrated his imminent trip to Australia when he started and finished a fine move from the Wharfedale ten metre line. Richard Gregg’s conversion narrowly missed but Barrett widened the gap with a penalty at the end of the first quarter.

Woodhead and Barrett combined once more when a good lineout take on halfway gave the fly half a gap he expertly exploited. This time his kick missed but even though Richard Rhodes was sinbinned A’s could not reduce the deficit until Brett McNamee took a hand at the end of the half, Gregg converting. Barrett’s penalty ended the session.

Mike Allan finished brilliantly after a strike against the head ten minutes after the restart and Gregg’s flat penalty brought the scores to within five points.

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The second half proceeded in almost desultory fashion at least for Albanians and there did not seem to be the clarity of thought and intensity of action which Billy Johnson’s men can demonstrate at their best. Yet they had fought their way almost to parity by the final quarter and both sides had notched three tries.

Barrett’s penalty preceded the bonus-point try for Ollie Cooper-Millar as the final whistle approached. Gregg’s conversion attempt was pushed wide by the stiff breeze and despite fierce pressure in the right corner Albanians were unable to breach stout Wharfedale defence in the time remaining.

All seemed agreed that two league points was less than could have been achieved in a somewhat turbulent encounter.

Next week’s opponents, Blackheath, are probably happier with their form since the turn of the year than Albanians; but it would still take a brave pundit to predict the outcome. Enjoy! Kickoff 1500 in South London.