Old Albanian denied by powerful Esher

Old Albanian will hope to return to winning ways against Rosslyn Park on Saturday. Pictures by Neil

Old Albanian will hope to return to winning ways against Rosslyn Park on Saturday. Pictures by Neil Baldwin - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian put in a valiant effort against a powerful, efficient Esher side but it was not enough as they lost 31-10.

Lawrence Rayner

Lawrence Rayner - Credit: Archant

For much of the first half there was little to choose between the teams and Albanian were in the lead for most of it.

Esher’s bigger forwards would probably have been surprised not to have made more of their size advantage in this period but the home backs took crucial chances when offered towards half-time.

A virtuoso performance from England U20 star Luke Daniels, who contributed 21 points, and a couple of Albanian defensive errors eventually gained the hosts a victory the extent of which before half-time could not have been predicted.

Lawrence Rayner gave Albanians a second-minute lead from a penalty and five minutes later Daniels crossed half way out on the left after six smooth passages of play by his pack. He converted his own try.

Esher let the restart kick bounce into touch, which took play to their 22, and in the 18th minute Stefan Liebenberg was able to dart over. Rayner’s conversion restored the visitors’ three lead.

Great work by wings Jimmy Speirs and Chris May took play back into their opponents’ half but a promising attack ended with a knock-on.

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The last seven minutes of the half ended Albanian hopes of a first away win of the year. First Tom Whelan, livewire fly half, put Ashley Smith away and he ghosted through the defence. Daniels made no mistake with the kick and he was on hand moments later to gather a chip ahead which eluded two Albanian defenders. Again he converted and his side now enjoyed an 11-point lead at the break.

This was increased six minutes into the second period when the OA scrum did not go entirely to plan and the penalty took play into the visitor’s 22. Winger Andy Wright finished off on the overlap for the bonus point score. Daniels again converted and obliged with a penalty five minutes later. This proved the final score.

The rest of the match degenerated into an unending series of reset scrums punctuated by spirited Albanian attacks, with Matt Chambers especially to the fore. Esher defended competently.

Rosslyn Park visit Woollams this Saturday, 3pm kick-off.