Sometimes a Loss Brings Happy News!
Albanians discovered much about strength in depth with this creditable performance against an efficient Stortford outfit and, though the visitors returned home with just a losing bonus point to show for their efforts, nobody was at all distressed at the manner of the defeat.
As previously mentioned the team sheet bore no resemblance to the list from the previous week and several players started who were not exactly well known to the supporters at Silver Leys.
Indeed the Stortford faithful were gracious enough in victory to praise the Albanian work rate and staunch defence which they likened positively to any they’ve encountered this year. Whilst it would be probably inaccurate to say that OAs were unlucky not to come away with an unlikely win, the squad can feel very pleased with what was achieved against confident opponents.
One or two points bear mention. Once more there were too many errors, this time committed by both sides either with or against the tricky crossfield wind. The lineout is still not functioning as proficiently as could be wished; over complicated preliminaries seem to be counter productive. Finally the pack was tested more than of late by a heavy, well drilled eight at scrum time. This is hardly a surprise in last Saturday’s circumstances and the fact that this important detail did not become a crucial weakness is a testament to the fine playing attitude displayed by the tight forwards.
Defense, so often the key to success, held out gamely for much of the contest, so much so that it took until the seventy second minute for the hosts to regain a lead which they had lost just before the half hour mark. Head Coach Gavin Hogg expressed his pride in his men particularly in this context.
As was to be expected dependable flyer Nick Hankin troubled the scorer first, speeding imperiously down the narrowest of left wing channels but not close enough for Matt Riddington to convert.
Undaunted Dan Watt, with so much on his shoulders this week, broke through at the posts three minutes later and had no problem with the improvement. Next a strange, and rare, defensive Albanian error involving a mistimed charge down in A’s 22, weirdly presented the ball to Joe Bridger and, thus invited, he tore to the line from better than halfway. Watt again converted.
Riddington narrowed the gap with the game’s only penalty just before the break.
The third quarter began well enough for OAs who were well worth territorial advantage for nearly fifteen minutes. Yet pressure told and Taylor Reed was sent to the bin and within a minute Declan Caulfield touched down from the back of a Stortford rolling maul. Somehow Riddington’s kick went wide and Albanians settled to the task of defending a one point lead. It proved a task too much.
As previously mentioned, with eight minutes to go the lead changed for the final time when Seb Brownhill rumbled to the line.
Bishops Stortford will have been delighted with their start to this campaign. They are properly organised and take their chances in timely fashion. They will do well.
Albanians consolidation season proceeds and the coaching team will take plenty of heart from this performance. The entire starting fifteen and the replacements should be proud of themselves and will now prepare for the visit of Fylde next week. The Northerners have had a tough time so far and will be desperate for good news. It falls to Albanians to deny them at least for another week.
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A Testing Time Awaits…
It has been said that one man’s crisis is another man’s opportunity and that in at least one Chinese dialect both states are represented by the same word. In which case a substantial opportunity comes the way of Albanians this week at Silver Leys.
Changes in selection have been necessary through injury, non-availability and other commitments and this week’s team sheet will bear little resemblance to that of seven days ago. This gives management the chance to explore the true strength in depth of this young squad and undoubtedly valuable experience will be given to some players who haven’t often started a match in National One. The final list of those selected will be published before kickoff against Bishops Stortford.
Our Hertfordshire neighbours/rivals have had a cracking start in this division, so far winning five of their eight matches and currently sitting sixth in the rankings. They will have felt justly proud of beating Birmingham Moseley away from home last week and Rosslyn Park in an earlier encounter. Interestingly they have thus far been beaten at home by Plymouth and Ampthill and will surely want to make a point on their own turf come Saturday.
It has been written many times that, given the basic abilities, a team will do well if it attends to precision and intensity. This theory will likely be put to the sternest test at the weekend but, whatever the squad makeup, whoever takes the field will do so with the most positive attitude.
After all, the opportunity is there!
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|Bishop’s Stortford Rugby Football Club|
|Bishop\’s Stortford Rugby Football Club, Silver Leys, Hadham Rd, Bishop\’s Stortford CM23 2QE, UK|