Preview: Old Albanian vs Hartpury College

The Old Albanian defense combine against an opposing prop

The Old Albanian defense combine against an opposing prop - Credit: Archant

Read Brian Quinn’s preview of Saturday’s must-win game for Old Albanian

Old Albanian’s attempts to remain in National League One will be focussed on overcoming Hartpury College this Saturday writes Brian Quinn.

In the reverse fixture last December, spectators were treated to a spectacularly poor match, marred all the more by the fact that more than half of the clash was taken up with scrum resetting. Whatever the outcome at the weekend it is to be earnestly hoped that such ridiculous game management does not recur.

Hartpury’s results have been much better than OA’s efforts this season; they are in sixth place in the league and have amassed 32 points more than the Woollams outfit, securing 17 wins to 10.

Yet the game in Gloucestershire was only decided in the last few minutes and by just five points. It is also true to say that Matt Protheroe, replacement fly-half on the day but also a highly successful full back, was solely responsible for the victory.

Protheroe is at least a level above National One in ability and has an extraordinary knack of ghosting through defences as if they did not exist. He did this twice in the last encounter and, having done the damage, made the scoring pass to his full-back on both occasions. Whilst his delightful skill would enhance almost any rugby field, Andy Holloway and his men will be hoping a premiership side has gainful employment for him at the weekend.

Preparation for the College visit has been fractured by the two rest days in the past month but this has given OA’s wounded warriors time to recover and recharge batteries. There has also been the satisfying draw at Esher a fortnight ago and this has helped team morale no end. The fact that OAs are at home will also help matters since the local record is far better than that on the road.

There are no injury worries recorded for this important match and playing and coaching personnel are fully aware of the importance of the result. It will be a great afternoon. Kick-off is at 3pm.