Ten of the best for OAs

League leaders the latest to fall to Woollams Men

National Two South

Old Albanian 20 Richmond 17

OH the OAs are happy. Very happy.

It wasn’t pretty but Old Albanian kept their promotion hopes on track with victory over league leaders Richmond to extend their winning run to 10 matches and close the gap on their opponents to six points.

The Woollams Men were forced to work hard for their win by a Richmond side who enjoyed the upper hand at the scrum and whose ball retention was top notch.

OAs drew the first blood when ace marksman Terry Adams scampered after a kick ahead into Richmond’s 22 and pounced on the loose ball to score in the corner but Richard Gregg’s conversion attempt drifted in the wind.

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The home side drew blood – quite literally – minutes later when a clash of heads left prop Marco Cecere ruled out of the rest of the game and winger Chris May spilling a considerable amount of claret.

That double setback disrupted OAs and Richmond pounced with England U20 prop Kyle Sinckler emerging triumphant after the visitors had shunted the home side back over their own tryline.

One soon became two as Will Browne capitalised on a mistake by OAs to race in unopposed under the posts and hand Richmond a 14-5 lead. The visitors now had their tails up but OAs grafted for their lives and were rewarded with an important score right on the stroke of half-time.

Livewire scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier was the scorer looping round the blindside to score unopposed after a rare OAs excursion into opposition territory as the teams turned around with OAs 14-10 down.

Whatever was said in the OAs dressing room at half-time certainly had the desired effect as the home side took the game to their visitors.

Their adventure was rewarded with a second try for Adams, the outside centre gleefully accepting Gregg’s precise offload to run in under the posts to edge OAs back in front, albeit temporarily as Richmond full-back Tom Platt added a penalty to tie the scores.

Back came OAs, probing the Richmond defence with wave after wave of attack but the league leaders stood firm and rebuffed OAs advances. Crucially referee Ross Campbell spotted an infringement right in front of the posts and Gregg sent the resulting penalty through the sticks.

A malfunctioning match clock – which already stated that time was up - left the sizeable Woollams crowd unawares of how long was left to play as Richmond drove deep into the home 22. The league leaders looked after the ball extremely well and with no mistake materialising it looked as if they were set to score right in the far corner but OAs’ defence shut the door firmly in the face of their opponents, forcing the ball into touch and being rewarded with the sound of referee Campbell’s final whistle.

Director of rugby James Shanahan admitted afterwards that he still felt Richmond were in control of the promotion race but the Woollams Men are determined to be there to pick up the pieces should the league leaders slip up. More results like this will certainly help their cause.

OAs: Gregg, May, Adams, Lombaard, Collins, Shanahan, Bruzulier, Hughes, Bailey, Cecere, Bickle, Phillips, Cooper-Millar, White �, Daish.

Reps: Cope, Ormesher, Farenheim, O’Keefe, Spiers.