OAs ready for Sedgley

PUBLISHED: 10:03 28 February 2013 | UPDATED: 10:03 28 February 2013

OAs' centre James Shanahan. Photo: warwickpics.co.uk

OAs' centre James Shanahan. Photo: warwickpics.co.uk

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ALBANIANS had a welcome break after the lack-lustre performance against Blaydon writes Brian Quinn.

This Saturday they journey to Lancashire, home of Sedgley Tigers, and James Shanahan’s squad can expect nothing but a fiery welcome at Park Lane.

Shanahan, A’s director of rugby, pictured, believes there will be a fierce reaction by their opponents to last Saturday’s heavy defeat by visitors Fylde.

“The Tigers shipped nine tries at home last week and pride will ensure there is no lack of motivation against us,” he said.

“It goes almost without saying that they will want to avenge such a defeat as quickly as possible. If we are not totally on our mettle we will provide them with the opportunity to do exactly that,” he added.

Albanians have experienced the whole gamut of emotions this season; elation against Blackheath, Esher and league-leaders Ealing and despair against Tynedale and Loughborough. It will come as no surprise that the roller-coaster effect demonstrated since the turn of the year has imbued the OA faithful with a certain caution when predicting results.

Such is the delight of this league that position in the table will be no indicator of success or failure until the final whistle blows.

Shanahan is sure there are a number of factors which will bolster the optimists but dealt with potential problems first.

“We still have a number of squad players missing through injury,” he said.

“Billy Johnson’s foot fracture means his loss will be a big blow.”

A’s influential captain was hurt whilst starring for the England Counties against France last Friday and will be out for a month.

“Chris May has broken a hand and is likely to miss the rest of the season. Will Griggs and Danny Holmes both miss this game through injury,” added Shanahan.

He knows the win against Tigers last year can provide valuable pointers as to what his team can expect.

“They will be tough opponents who carry the ball well and defend tenaciously.

“It took us a long time in that last game to make an impression and our bonus point only came with the last move of the match. We need patience and attention to detail on Saturday.”

On the positive side he pointed out there are a number of players now back in contention for a starting berth.

“Tom Jubb, Lloyd Bickle, Max Crumpton and Matt Chambers are available in the pack and Richard Gregg wants the fifteen jersey back,” he said. “That is a great boost to anyone’s confidence.”

It is worth noting that no less than six squad members have enjoyed England recognition so far this season and, but for Matt Hankin’s unfortunate injury, that number would have been seven. The side’s pedigree improves apace.

There should also be a reaction by Albanian players to the defeat by Blaydon two Saturdays ago; that should provide all the incentive required on the long journey to Manchester. Kick-off 2.30pm.

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