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Dan Watt tests the Blaydon defence

Dan Watt tests the Blaydon defence - Credit: Archant

Inspirational Dan kicks 14 points as OAs just edge Blaydon

Dan Watt kicked 14 points as Old Albanian etched out the tightest of victories over Blaydon in National League One at Woollams.

The centre was incredibly reliable despite the wind at Woollams, kicking four penalties and a conversion, as OAs won 19-18 over Jim Huxley’s side. He could have kicked an extra three points right at the end but it sailed wide, sealing a scoreline that is just as dramatic as it suggests.

Watt’s right boot, plus Billy Johnson’s first-half try, saw OAs pick up their second win on the bounce and boost their chance of survival.

With eight games left, head coach Andy Holloway has told his troops that every game is a cup final, and they certainly played like it. Watt missed an early kick from the touchline but he made up for it as he side-stepped a man and passed to captain Johnson to go over unopposed.

Blaydon’s gameplan was exactly as expected: they kicked a lot, were tremendous in the scrum and their lineout drive was immense. Their first score involved all three as Will Witty emerged from the bottom of the lineout drive with the ball and Craig Willis added the extras.

The hosts did exceptionally well to stop the next lineout drive but a penalty allowed Willis to kick Blaydon into their first lead.

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OA’s good work translated to offensive when Jimmy Speirs went over in the corner following a fortuitous bounce and a kick from Johnson, but the referee pulled the play back for an alleged forward pass, giving the scrum to Blaydon, who cleared their lines.

In truth, Blaydon edged the first-half - their defence was terrific and they challenged OAs – but they went into the break level on points after Watt kicked three points.

Willis and Watt traded penalties after the break before Harry Bate crashed over in the corner following a lineout drive to give Blaydon a 18-13 lead. Importantly for OAs, Willis’ conversion sailed wide right to keep the lead to five points.

Watt inspired OAs to their next points as he slipped a tackle and surged inside Blaydon’s 22. The ball was marched within five metres but a penalty stopped the drive, and Watt opted to kick three points and bring OAs within two points.

Watt’s choice was vindicated when he capped off another possession with a penalty to put OAs one-point in front.

Blaydon stuck to their gameplan, kicking the ball into space but Speirs and Ollie Marchon were exceptional at catching the ball deep in their territory and running it back to keep the ball away from the visitors and seal a narrow victory.

Billy’s Bar man of the match was no.8 Sam Lunnon.