Shanahan praises ‘outstanding’ win as Old Albanian go top of the table

OAs head coach James Shanahan. Photo: DAVID BUXTON

OAs head coach James Shanahan. Photo: DAVID BUXTON - Credit: David Buxton

Old Albanian player-coach James Shanahan was quick to praise the “outstanding” victory over Taunton – a result which puts them top of National Two South.

The 35-24 success on Saturday saw his team run in six tries against the side that had started the day in the top spot.

He said: “I thought our ball in hand skills in the first half was good but Taunton did well to slow us down. They scrambled back well and it restricted us from getting a few more scores.

“But in the second half our ball presentation and our ability to move the ball away from contact was outstanding.

“And some of the tries we scored, full length of the pitch, was nothing to do with Taunton defensively, it was just really good attack.”

Usually when a team starts displaying such Barbarian-style flair, it causes coaches to despair.

But with Shanahan pulling the strings from fly-half, it was often him who instigated the attacks.

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However, this was all part of the plan.

“We were playing into a strong wind and one of Taunton’s strengths is the lineout,” he said. “The last thing we wanted to do is kick the thing out of play and they get a catch and drive. Those are really hard to stop.

“So our focus this week was to keep the ball alive, keep it infield and run them. And because of their powerful pack we knew we’d get space elsewhere.

“We maybe did it too much but then three of our tries came from our own line so you know, is it risky? Well not if you get the rewards so I’m happy with that.”

And while OAs may now top the tree, it is only on points difference and Shanahan knows they have to keep the focus and hard work going in training.

He said: “We’ve played some tough teams and we’ve got some really good wins and Taunton was the best team we’ve played.

“It’s a good win and I look forward to going there as that could be a decision on who is going up.

“There’s still five teams who can get those two spots so we’ve got to keep going over the next few games, keep working hard as a team and that’s what we’ll do.”