OAs shock Darlington to stay in the hunt for survival

Dan Watt tackles Mowden's Thomas Kill. Picture: Chris Booth

Dan Watt tackles Mowden's Thomas Kill. Picture: Chris Booth - Credit: Archant

Darlington Mowden Park 19 Old Albanian 51

This was the best performance by an OA side for probably two years, writes Brian Quinn.

Though the reverse fixture in December had been a reasonably convincing win for Old Albanian, results since then had seen the north easterners climb out of the relegation area to a comfortable position in midtable. OAs have hovered near the red zone all season and pundits would not have predicted a pleasant day for Billy Johnson’s team last Saturday.

There has not been a major change in OA’s playing personnel since the last meeting of these two sides yet few could have predicted this result, especially since the match was played in the massive Northern Echo Arena. It seems the hosts underestimated the challenge of the southerners.

Just 15 minutes in OAs were 19 points up thanks to a Mike Allan interception, Dan Watt’s solo effort and an Andrew Daish pushover, two of which Watt converted.

The visitors then showed their determination in a bizarre period just before half time when Ollie Cooper-Millar, Lloyd Bickle and skipper Johnson were all ushered to the sin bin for offences in their 22. During this crucial period OAs conceded just one penalty try and even then managed to surge upfield for a penalty ably converted by Watt who was having the game of his life.

The fly-half increased his tally with a penalty after half time when Jack Allcock was shown to the naughty step. George Wacokecoke scooted over for an unconverted try shortly after but Daish notched his second pushover for Watt to convert.

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Allcock made amends for his absence with a try midway through the half but this closed Darlington’s account. The rest was all OAs.

Max Wilkins tore over in the left corner before George Perkins added a sparkling brace both of which were improved by Richard Gregg. The replacement fly-half notched a penalty with the last kick of the game to bring up the half century.

It is still possible that OAs will remain in National One next season. But this depends on a bonus point win against relegated Tynedale and Cinderford gaining less than four points against Esher. This Saturday will be a nerve racking day at Woollams. Kick-off is 3pm.