Shanahan frustrated with Old Albanian’s start in National One – but that’s a good thing

Old Albanian player-coach James Shanahan is happy with his side's start to life in National One. Pic

Old Albanian player-coach James Shanahan is happy with his side's start to life in National One. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian player-coach James Shanahan is a touch frustrated with his side’s start to life back in National One – but says that is a good thing.

The Woollams-based rugby club won promotion back to the third tier of English rugby last year and after the opening six games they lie seventh in the 16 team league, with 15 points and three wins.

Their most recent outing was a 22-9 defeat at Darlington Mowden Park, their fourth away trip of the campaign.

But considering the start they have had, with visits to Blaydon and Plymouth Albion, as well as Darlington, Shanahan thinks his side are doing fine.

He said: “We’ve got three wins on the board already which is good. It was always going to be a difficult start with four away trips in the first six matches, and the three longest ones to places where it’s always hard to go and get victories.

“So to have that start and pick up three wins, I would have taken that before the season started but now I’m a little disappointed because we’ve put ourselves into some good positions to pick up another win.

“It’s nothing massive to change; just being clinical and accurate in the final third because its’s hard work to get there so when we get there, lets get something from it.

Most Read

“I don’t have to rip up the script and throw it away, we just need to tweak a few things and the wins will come.

“It’s a hard league and I knew it would be, but except from Hartpury College, I think everyone can and will beat everyone else.

“So if you don’t turn up, either home or away, you could take a hiding. but if you do, then you could walk away with the points.”

The defeat at the Northern Echo Arena saw OAs ship 12 points inside the opening 10 minutes, a statistic which was the killer blow for OAs.

“That first 10 minutes absolutely killed us,” said Shanahan. “I don’t know if we were still in the changing rooms, on the train, in bed, I just don’t know.

“It’s two games on the bounce where we’ve had loads of possession and plenty of territory but come away with nothing, which is a bit harsh.

“But we’ve got to learn that while in National Two you can give away a couple of tries and maybe score four or five, in National One if you give a team a lead, the defences are better organised, teams are fitter, stronger and you will always end up playing catch-up rugby.

“We had a number of chances which we didn’t take and our scrum was dominant and got nothing from it which is frustrating.

“But we’ll learn. We certainly had enough possession to win a game of rugby.”