Title decider this Saturday for Old Albanian Rugby Club
LAST Saturday’s results ensured the absorbing battle for the title in National League 2 South continues to the wire as Richmond eased past Lydney and Old Albanian maintained their four-point advantage at the expense of a spirited Worthing.
Both results achieved a maximum five-point haul for the respective hosts and OAs, with at least a guaranteed play-off spot, now need just one point from this Saturday’s trip to Launceston to secure Level Three rugby next season.
A useful lesson will have been learned by Laurence White’s side when, after nearly half an hour, Ollie Cooper-Millar found himself with a 10-minute rest for an indiscretion at the ruck.
By this time Albanians were 14 points to the good courtesy of the cracking pace of messrs Marchon and Lombaard after sterling preparatory work by James Shanahan on the right. Both tries were improved by Richard Gregg who was successful seven times with the boot during the afternoon.
Worthing so far had seemed to offer no stern challenge and had even put two kick-offs directly into touch. This situation changed dramatically in Worthing’s favour during 10 of the remaining 12 minutes of the half as a very rapid Jack Maslen scooted over in the right corner.
Matt Mclean’s conversion attempt came back off the left upright. Obviously miffed by this mishap Mclean then became a proper nuisance to the OA defence, some of whom committed the basic error of not playing to the whistle. McLean had no such problem and touched down twice more, converting both with ease.
It is a long time since a sin bin has been worth 19 points to any side in this league but OAs found themselves unexpectedly playing catch-up.
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Marchon charged to the rescue once more with a lightning strike to the right of the posts and the dependable Gregg added the two points which now formed the hosts’ slender lead.
At the interval observers felt Albanians were edging ahead in most departments, bar the aforementioned 10 minute meltdown, especially in midfield defence and at the lineout where Bickle and Phillips held court all afternoon.
Four minutes gone in the second period saw May denied under the posts.
However, Andrew Daish made almost immediate amends and his superb backing up saw him over by the corner flag after an eminently kickable penalty was run.
This earned the critical bonus point for Albanians.
The rangey Kiba Richards got the same idea for the visitors some 10 minutes later as his fine solo effort brought Worthing to within two points and earned them their own bonus. This time McLean could not convert.
Going into the last quarter OA pressure increased and at a defending Worthing scrum JB Bruzulier correctly anticipated Joe Govett’s pass and touched down from 15 metres out. Gregg was on hand for the additional points and converted a penalty five minutes later to give his side a workable gap.
A tiring Worthing now conceded territory to Albanians and Cooper-Millar was finally able to smile once more when, with five minutes to go, he claimed the try after a concerted forward drive. Gregg does not miss from that range.
The last scoring move of the game demonstrated that “Shanner’s” men are able and willing to strike from anywhere on the field. Worthing’s huge final effort had forced play deep into OA’s 22 where possession was regained far out on the left.
Two passes and fully 90 metres later Daish stepped out of the last despairing tackle to cross near the flag. The peerless Gregg brought up the host’s eighth half century this season.
Launceston would seem to have it all to do next week but they have been highly successful this year including encompassing the upsetting of Richmond’s apple cart and will be keen to topple Albanian’s effort even at this late stage.
Only the best will do in Cornwall next Saturday and it will be a great and fitting finale to a marvellous season if they can get the job done in style.