Staring the drop in the face is not pleasant but it is a marvellous motivator and Ionians proved this at Brantingham Park last Saturday. Truth to tell there was little else between the sides other than motivation if you discount the immense contribution from Callum Irvine. Three tries and a drop goal helped enormously in his sides struggle to stay in this division.
Albanians fought manfully but probably made too many errors to profit by more than the single league point their own five tries gave them, this despite the yellow card awarded to each of the Hull locks.
Billy Johnson made a true captain’s contribution, crossing the whitewash twice and the performance of the tight five in scrum and loose gave early hope of a positive outcome.
Ionians defence was a crucial factor even though they conceded five tries. It could have been more but a sprightly Albanian attack were just unable to wear their opponents down sufficiently.
The score was 20-14 at the interval and visiting supporters were not too distressed at this margin. Irvine’s second try shortly after the restart changed all that and probably put the match beyond the visitors. Lewis Minikin ensured the result within minutes.
The closest the visitors got was 34-26 with seven minutes remaining. Albanians added a further try as the encounter wound down; Ionians added two to prolong their stay at this level to the last weekend of the season.
Blaydon, who gave Rosslyn Park plenty to think about, will be the season’s final visitors to Woollams next Saturday. For many of the side it will be their last outing in OA colours and it will be James Shanahan’s last match in charge. It should be an afternoon to remember.
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|Hull Ionians RUFC|
|Brantingham Park, Brantingham Rd, Elloughton, Brough HU15 1HX|