OAs ready to welcome league leaders Richmond

OLD ALBANIAN director of rugby James Shanahan believes there is no room for error as his side target promotion from National Two South.

Shanahan’s side extended their winning streak to nine games with a bonus point victory at fellow promotion hopefuls Hartpury College last Saturday to set them up nicely for this weekend’s showdown with league leaders Richmond at Woollams.

OAs go into the game nine points behind Richmond and in second place and Shanahan says they have to keep their winning run going if they are to book a place in the end of season play-offs.

“Every game is a tough game now,” Shanahan told the Herts Advertiser.

“We’ve got to win every game not just Richmond because it is so tight at the top and we don’t want to slip out of the promotion places.

“We’re playing some good rugby at the moment. People say are you low on confidence or are you high on confidence; I think you make your own confidence.

“The boys are playing well at the moment and are working really hard.”

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OAs overcame the sin-binning of three of their players to bring home five points from their trip to a frosty Gloucestershire last Saturday and Shanahan was pleased with how his team stifled their hosts.

He said: “It was a strange game. There were five yellows in the first half and it wasn’t a dirty game, just a good hard game of rugby.

“There were a couple of poor high tackles from our boys and they retaliated so fair enough but we really kept to our structures and our patterns and sucked the life out of them.”

The league leaders ran in eight tries as they beat Taunton 53-14 at home last Saturday and Shanahan admits they will pose his in-form side a real challenge.

“They’ll be a tough team to beat and we’ll respect them but we are confident we can win,” explained Shanahan.

“They’re a very well rounded side and are good at the lineout and in the set piece. They’ve got good strong backs; they’re a bit like us. It is going to be a real tough test and I think it is worthy of being a top of the table clash.

“We’ve still got a few injuries in the squad but players have stepped up and performed well.

“It’s got to the stage where those guys coming back are really going to have to fight for their place back in the team.

“We’ve probably got our best team available to put out.”

Kick-off at Woollams this Saturday is 3pm.

OAs’ nine game winning streak: Clifton (A) 30-18; Redruth (H) 50-7; Westcombe Park (A) 31-12; Shelford (H) 47-14; Worthing (A) 41-13; Dings Crusaders (H) 62-3; Henley Hawks (A) 17-7; Lydney (H) 57-8; Hartpury College (A) 32-18.