Rayner's 22 points help Old Albanian edge Worthing

PUBLISHED: 09:40 17 December 2013 | UPDATED: 09:40 17 December 2013

Old Albanian narrowly beat Worthing 32-31 on Saturday. Picture: warwickpics.com

Old Albanian narrowly beat Worthing 32-31 on Saturday. Picture: warwickpics.com

Archant

Lawrence Rayner will probably receive the OA version of knlghthood for his services to the cause last Saturday.

His calm precision in attack and defence was an object lesson to all. His kicking, both out of hand and especially for goal was a tour de force and his 22-point haul richly deserved the man of the match accolade awarded to him and published in The Rugby Paper.

OA were not quite at their recent best in a slightly jittery first period but did enough to warrant a six-point lead in the first 15 minutes courtesy of the nerveless fly half’s first two penalties.

Play had been forced up and down the field in the opening quarter and mistakes abounded on both sides, Albanians gaining the advantage first. Then home fly half Ben Dudley took a hand crossing close enough to the posts for Finlay Coxon-Smith to kick his side into a one point lead.

Oliver Richards, a nuisance to the visitors all afternoon, crossed next and Coxon-Smith’s improvement temporarily put daylight between the sides. In the time remaining before the interval James Speirs replied in muscular fashion for Albanians and Rayner’s conversion reduced the deficit to just one point.

A huge Worthing effort after the restart seemed to be turning the match their way once more when Samuel Hewick and Kiba Richards charged over in quick succession, earning the hosts a bonus point. Coxon-Smith obliged with the conversion of Hewick’s try and travelling supporters wondered if the gap, now a worrying 13 points, might be insurmountable.

Rayner soothed frayed nerves with a penalty nine minutes into the half and territorially Albanians were now having the best of the contest even though apppearing to suffer occasionally in the tight scrum. This mattered not to George Saunders whose try, with Rayner’s inevitable conversion, brought his side again into close contention and, although replacement Alexander Nielsen notched Worthing’s fifth try, confidence seemed to mount in OA ranks.

It was decided by discipline. Rayner was offered three opportunities for goal and he took them all. At the same time Albanian defence throughout the side proved impervious to whatever the Sussex men threw at them. The calm adherence to the game plan left Worthing ruing the chances given away.

Final score: Worthing 31 Old Albanians 32.

Loughborough seek to ruin OA’s Christmas on Saturday at Woollams, kick-off 3pm.

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