Late try not enough as Old Albanian lose narrowly to Barnes
- Credit: DANNY LOO
Outrageous fortune had little to do with this narrow defeat at Woollams and the two points gathered from the 26-24 defeat to Barnes at least lifted Old Albanian into 10th – two points ahead of next week’s opponents Dings Crusaders.
The slings and arrows were, for a time, cocked and loaded in OA's favour. The hosts withstood early Barnes pressure comfortably and worked their way upfield spreading the ball wide at every opportunity.
Yet it still took a smart interception during a period of Barnes possession for runaway winger Josh Hallett to show a clean pair of heels to his pursuers from over half-way. Joe Butler converted.
Barnes regrouped and on 25 minutes second-row Jamie Collins earned the touchdown after mounting pressure and an efficient driving maul. Basil Strang levelled the scores.
Five minutes from half-time the structure of the match started to unravel with the first yellow card and penalty try, Ciaran Smyth the guilty party. Not to be outdone Albanians reciprocated, the scores evened again and Tom Bednall went to the bin.
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To that point Albanian had lacked some of the precision of which they are capable, particularly at the line-out. They were much better at scrum time and aggressive in defence, yet a greater share of possession and fewer turnovers would have seen a happier half-time break.
The visitors spent most of the third quarter camped in the home side's territory and their pack, again purposefully mauling, finally found the way through in the 53rd minute, Conor Harbison credited with the final touch.
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Bednall, restored to the fold, tore over on the left after Albanian had won two scrum penalties and with the penalties mounting against Barnes the home side sensed blood in the water.
And yet it was Barnes who were able to craft a concerted attack and centre Harry Salisbury crossed when the OA defence for once faltered in midfield. Strang converted once more.
The string of penalties now went the other way but despite this Nic Defeo was on the end of probably the most entertaining move of the day wide out on the right.
The late effort was not quite enough to make up the points difference though.