OAs thump Macclesfield

Albanian move back up to fifth after victory on Saturday

Old Albanian 32

Macclesfield 6

National League One

This comprehensive win was a satisfying way for Albanians to end the first half of this season’s league campaign writes Brian Quinn.

The five points gained took them back to fifth in the table, the slot they had occupied before coming second at Roehampton the previous week. In the process the hosts scored five tries and conceded none and it is a tribute to resolute defence that a tenacious Macclesfield, who had several periods of play where they seriously threatened the OA line, were eventually resisted without crossing the whitewash. Sound defensive practice and an ability to take whatever scoring chances presented themselves were once again the foundations of this latest victory.

The first quarter gave no hint of what was to come as the visitors put their stated intention of abrasive attack, particularly up front, into effect and whilst attempts to stifle Albanian possession did not fully come to pass, ‘Shanner’s’ men had reason to be on their mettle to repulse determined Blue’s attacks. Indeed Thomas Eaton opened Macclefield’s account on eighteen minutes with a penalty from close range.

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Three minutes later A’s took the lead they were not to lose again when Richard Gregg found the gap on the right. His conversion attempt shaved the left hand upright. There followed another period of intense Macclesfield assault into Albanian territory frustrated by a sharp break from his own 22 by James Shanahan who gave field position for Gregg’s successful penalty with three minutes left in the half. Eaton reduced the deficit with his second penalty two minutes later.

Arran MacDougall made a ferocious end to the half by picking up in broken play and tearing through ragged defence to cross wide out. Gregg’s conversion again went slightly awry.

Six minutes into the second period rampaging No8 Matt Chambers followed MacDougall’s example and charged over the line from the base of an attacking scrum. Gregg was unable to add the extras.

The elements then took a hand and the stiff breeze and driving rain hindered Macclesfield’s defensive capabilities and helped the kicking game which Albanians adopted to ensure play remained mostly in the Blues’ half. Discipline also played a part and frustration ensured that the visitors were to play a quarter of this match with only fourteen men on the field, David Marwick and Alan Marsh both sin-binned for separate indiscretions.

After fifteen minutes of the half Andy Daish made the game safe with his close range try which also brought up the Albanian bonus point. Gregg obliged with his first conversion of the afternoon.

Much of the remainder of play now took place in the visitors’ half and despite dogged defence they conceded a fifth try when Lawrence Rayner crossed near the posts, Gregg adding the conversion.

Once more Albanians performed with maturity and patience, seemingly secure in the knowledge that if defence is sound the side has the attacking quality to score points from almost anywhere. So far this year, and after some torrid lessons from the likes of Blaydon and Blackheath, this policy is paying dividends for the Woollams men.

The year’s second half begins next week at Richmond who will want to avenge their loss in September and will be confident of this aim after inflicting Esher’s first home defeat in this campaign. It will be another absorbing contest. Kick off 15.00 at the Athletic Ground.

Old Albanian: Gregg, Speirs, Adams, Lombaard, Marchon; Shanahan, Evans; MacDougall, McNamee, Cade, Bickle, Johnson (c), Daish, Cooper-Millar, Chambers.

Reps: Cope, Schillaci, Fahrenheim, Rayner, May.