Old Albanian edged out by Richmond

OAs pressure the Richmond try-line. Picture: Neil Baldwin

OAs pressure the Richmond try-line. Picture: Neil Baldwin - Credit: Archant

There was a certain lack of characteristic grunt about this last Albanian performance and, ultimately, a lack of the precision necessary to unlock a stubborn defence in the latter stages of the match writes Brian Quinn.

OAs swarm on a Richmond player. Picture: Neil Baldwin

OAs swarm on a Richmond player. Picture: Neil Baldwin - Credit: Archant

Truth to tell it was an error strewn afternoon with both sides contributing to the unforced error count but the tricky cross-field wind did nothing to help either side. Strangely Richmond and OAs did little to harness what advantage there was from the elements and when the hosts attempted a long kickoff the ball went straight into touch.

Action from the game. Picture: Neil Baldwin

Action from the game. Picture: Neil Baldwin - Credit: Archant

Recovering from this, Richmond sped the ball wide right and a workable overlap appeared which flanker Harrison Edwards made haste to convert. He was unable to control a slippery ball and the chance passed.

Will Browne was given the next opportunity when put into space by fullback Warren Abrahams and he made no mistake with seven minutes gone. Rob Kirby’s excellent conversion added the extras.

So far it had been a somewhat sleepy start by the visitors who found themselves further behind when, on 18 minutes, the defence failed to clear a grubber kick under the posts. Great work at the tight scrum seemed to have removed the danger but a careless hand in the ensuing ruck ushered danger back in. Kirby added the simple three points.

Matters got substantially better for OAs as the second quarter started and concerted pressure on Richmond’s forwards yielded territory and a strike against the head. Thus enthused Jimmy Speirs made his break for the line but lost his footing. Richard Gregg put his side on the board with the penalty forced on the defence at the breakdown.

Then a searing break from their own 22 brought play to the Richmond 10-metre line and Chris Lombaard did the rest, scything through a sundered defence.

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Two points adrift at half time and with sun and wind in their favour after the interval, Albanians returned to the field in confident mood. The tie had not been dissimilar to that against Coventry where Billy Johnson’s men had weathered an early storm to impose themselves on their opponents in the last hour.

Richmond had other ideas. They took advantage of a wayward kick-off and tore into Old Albanian territory. Replacement Myles Scott drove for the line and, when he was stopped, Kirby took over and his determined surge by the posts left him with a simple conversion.

It would be unfair to say that nothing worked in OAs’ favour for the rest of the match but unforced errors and tactical misjudgements combined to nullify attacking efforts.

The overriding factor in the last half hour was the strength and nous of the Richmond defence which earned its corn in no uncertain manner repelling wave after wave of increasingly desperate Albanian attacks in a calm, almost untroubled manner. This time OAs could find no way through.

Henley visit Woollams on Saturday March 1 and they will want to improve on a somewhat patchy series of results of late. They will also want to avenge their defeat to OAs earlier in the season. Kick-off 3pm.