Gallery: OAs shoot down Hawks at Woollams
PUBLISHED: 11:20 04 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:20 04 March 2014
For the first time in a month or more the weather at Woollams favoured running rugby and certainly much running was done, but not all was to the satisfaction of the large crowd.
Albanians eventually subdued a spirited Henley effort but will wonder why it took so long to gain supremacy over opponents who have not fulfilled their early season potential. They will also ponder why, when their visitors’ penalty count was more than thrice their own, they seemed unable to take advantage of what opportunities were on offer.
The visitors incurred Mr Leahy’s displeasure three times in the first five minutes alone and this was a trend they seemed unable to break for the entire afternoon.
Lawrence Rayner’s second minute penalty attempt shaved the crossbar but Henley retaliated with a strike against the head on A’s 22. Adroit passing to the left allowed Ed Yarnton to romp over in the corner and James Comben converted. Four minutes later the Albanian line was again under threat when a well worked move, this time on the right, gave Xavier Andre a neat overlap. His celebration was short lived as the scoring pass was deemed forward.
Lawrence Rayner’s penalty opened his side’s account in the middle of a desultory half but it was another ten minutes, whilst the penalties proliferated, until the first real breach was made in stout Henley defence. Andy Daish drove powerfully for the line and he was supported brilliantly by skipper Billy Johnson. Rayner converted for a lead his side were not to lose.
Henley No 8 Rob Stapley, their most effective forward, had been given a ten minute rest for persistent infringement at the end of the first quarter and this had signalled an improvement in the hosts’ tight scrum which lasted the rest of the game. The lineout, as ever, provided Albanians with a steady stream of good possession.
Rayner and Comben exchanged penalties in the last two minutes of the half.
Henley spent the ten minutes after the interval deep in Albanian territory but the home defence matched whatever was thrown at it. Field advantage then moved in A’s favour and with an hour played Rayner secured his third penalty.
The rest of the match became a damage limitation exercise for the visitors and they made a good fist of it for the most part. However Rayner’s smart drop goal at the final whistle denied them even a bonus point for their strenuous efforts.
Albanians trek to Blaydon next weekend to try to take their first ever league points in the North East. Their opponents have had mixed results this season but came very close to discomfiting league leaders Doncaster last time out. It will be a tough challenge.