Old Albanian back in National One after play-off win secures promotion

Old Albanian RFC v Sedgley Park

Old Albanian RFC v Sedgley Park - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian Rugby Club are back in National One next season after a comprehensive 24-0 play-off win over Sedgley Park.

A mighty defensive effort ensured Sedgley Park made not a single inroad through Albanian lines on this blustery afternoon.

Sedgley were a well practised, physical outfit who would have relished any porosity in OA ranks.

None was forthcoming and though they had sufficient possession in both halves, every attacking move was defeated in detail in the pack or out wide.

Foremost in defence was the mighty OA front row and Matt Miles, Hayden King and David Spelman were at the heart of every breakdown and every turnover.

This lightened the load of the remaining forwards, the back five, who were able to roam destructively from start to finish.

Man-of-the-match Ross Hamilton was a constant thorn in the side of bigger opponents who essentially ran out of attacking ideas in the face of the constant Albanian onslaught.

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Attention to detail is crucial when producing this sort of performance in the pressure-filled atmosphere of a play-off game and everything went to plan from selection onwards.

Set piece play was at its best all day and provided a constant stream of quality possession for the hosts. It also disrupted Tigers’ efforts at scrum and lineout.

Albanian head coach James Shanahan acknowledged the debt the club owed to a rock-solid defence.

“I cannot remember one mistake”, he said. “Even when the occasional tackle was missed the backup players took care of matters. I am delighted for the players and we are all looking forward to going back to National One”.

His opposite number Dave Livesey should feel very proud of his squad’s work rate and application. On this day they were simply faced with a more clinical side.

Three goal kicks failed in the first quarter, two for Max Malins and one for Tigers’ Steve Collins. Malins notched on his third attempt 12 minutes in and his fourth nine minutes later.

Then as the half wound down great work by King and Hamilton gave Malins the tiny gap he needed to storm over and convert.

There was no score in the third quarter until the full-back stroked his third penalty.

With five minutes left Nick Foster was denied by a forward pass but when his forwards regained possession he acrobatically made amends.

Malins’ final minute penalty ended the scoring.