Penalties and ill-discipline costs Old Albanian against Rosslyn Park

Max Wilkins puts in a tackle

Max Wilkins puts in a tackle - Credit: Archant

On a bitterly cold January afternoon Old Albanian suffered their fourth consecutive defeat at home to Rosslyn Park. A physical and scrappy encounter ended in a 19-10 victory for the away side, justifying their prominent position in National League One.

OAs started brightly and after some silky hands in the backs from Jordi Pasqualin and Ollie Marchon, followed by a quick tap and go, captain Billy Johnson went over in the corner. Richard Gregg added the conversion and OAs stormed ahead early in the game.

Park quickly responded and were within OA’s 22. However, simple handling errors and intelligent counter-rucking from prop, Charlie Hughes, meant OAs were relieved from their defensive duties on more than one occasion.

OAs had the opportunity to increase the lead following a good passage of play but Gregg was unable to capitalise, sending a drop goal wide of the posts. Both Gregg and Max Wilkins were kicking exceptionally well from hand enabling OAs to apply pressure near the line.

Rosslyn were slowly but surely making their way into the game but OAs were defiant in defence. However, too many kicks not landing in touch resulted in consistent attacking phases for Park. A thrilling run from Harry Broadbent eventually enabled Park to set up a driving maul, sucking in the OAs defence. This allowed Richard Davies to release Kiba Richards on the wing to go in for an easy try in the corner for the visitors. Davies converted and the scores were level going into half time with not much between the sides.

Straight from the break, Rosslyn Park looked dangerous with replacement Luke Carter darting through the middle. They soon took the lead from a 10 metre lineout as Alex McKenzie barrelled over. Rosslyn Park were much the better side in the early stages of the second half but a disorganised backline resulted in an obstruction, allowing Gregg to add three points from considerable distance to reduce the deficit to just two points.

Just when it seemed that the momentum was shifting towards Os they gave away a penalty which led to the next try. Park delivered a long throw to the back of the lineout which was turned into a quick ball for Paul Mackey to rampage down the middle. Numerous missed tackles allowed Mackey to go in under the posts and give Tom Whelan a simple conversion and a nine-point lead going into the last quarter of the game.

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OAs had a chance to regain a foothold in the game when Harry Broadbent was sin-binned but were unable to capitalise. A series of knock-ons alleviated any pressure whilst Steve Neville’s 10-minute rest did not aid the cause.

Whilst OAs continued to show glimpses of attacking play up until the final whistle, Rosslyn Park never looked like letting their lead slip away. Ultimately, OA’s conceded too many penalties to allow themselves to get back in the game.