Old Albanian see off Redruth in testing encounter

Old Albanian RFC

Old Albanian RFC - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian sit third in the National League Two South table after a 34-15 victory over Redruth at Woollams.

This attritional match on Saturday was worthy of its near top of the table billing as the West Country men strove mightily to control matters through a strong, aggressive scrum, writes Brian Quinn.

While this was not in danger of putting OA’s unbeaten home run in jeopardy, it gave Billy Johnson’s men plenty to contend with for most of a blustery afternoon.

Too much went wrong with the Redruth plan in the first half and over enthusiasm led to a yellow card for loose head Tommy Phillips as early as the ninth minute.

Four minutes later Mike Allan wriggled over for the first of his two tries after a gradual increase in Albanian pressure.

Redruth conceded nothing further until their prop was restored and the visiting pack rolled into OA territory.

Helped by a handling error, Neil Webber crossed close to the posts only for Brett Rule’s conversion to come back off the upright.

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Five minutes later Chris May and skipper Johnson led an Albanian charge for Max Malins to finish and the fly half obliged with the first successful kick of the match.

With a bright start to the second period Dan Rutter scooted over, but again the kick didn’t make it and Malins stretched the lead with a penalty 10 minutes into the half.

Man of the match Nick Foster then showed brilliant sleight of hand when he spun out of a tackle and flew down the left touchline. Malins made no mistake with the improving kick.

Not to be outdone Brad Janes proved unstoppable for the visitors but his try was too far out for Rule’s attempted conversion.

From the restart referee Alexis Manley correctly gave the ‘Joubert’ decision and from the resulting penalty Harry Bates crashed over to put daylight between the sides and a bonus point on the board.

There followed a scoreless quarter but in this time Albanian took control of the lineout and the visitors’ hopes diminished. It was three minutes from the end when Allan eased his way through three despairing tackles for Malins to convert from the touchline.

Once Albanian had come to terms with Redruth’s formidable forward challenge, their speedy backs were brought more into play.

Speed and tenacity at the breakdown was crucial and in this respect the efforts of the entire Albanian back row and Nick Stevens, when he came on, received rousing support.

OA’s coach James Shanahan said: “It felt more like a six or seven point margin to me, but obviously I’m delighted.

“We can take a break now and get ready for Dorking in a fortnight.”