President's Match Day Welcome
On behalf of Old Albanian RFC I extend a very warm welcome to you all today to Woollams in particular the Players, Officials & Supporters of REDRUTH RFC. REDRUTH REDS come to us currently sitting comfortably in fifth position in the League having won six of their nine encounters to date this season. They are five points clear of us. Last Saturday the REDS were very unlucky to lose in the final minute of their game with high-flyers HENLEY by 16 points to 20. On their last visit to Woollams, three years ago on 24 October 2015, we ran out winners 34-15 but on our “return” visit to the Recreation Ground later that season, on 12 March 2016, we only just scraped a very tight encounter 29-18. REDRUTH RFC will be hosting the County Championship game between CORNWALL & HERTFORDSHIRE on 11 May next year when I feel pretty sure that a number of Players playing today on both sides will feature strongly in the County game. Let’s all hope that today’s encounter is another exciting meeting of our two 1st XV’s and that it’s played in the best possible rugby spirit, free from any serious injury & … a greatly-needed win for OAs !
Prior to the kick-off, we shall be observing a minute’s silence for PETER BAINES, former President of the RFU (2016-2017) and current President of Hertfordshire Rugby Football Union, who sadly died on Wednesday.
In addition to welcoming REDRUTH & their entourage this afternoon, I also warmly welcome many of our Sponsors, Benefactors, Vice Presidents, Supporters, Friends & Guests to our Supporters’ Lunch.
Huge thanks go to TRINITY WEALTH MANAGEMENT who are sponsoring today’s Match & Match Ball. Thank you TRINITY for your generous support.
We have another home game here this afternoon, with our GRIZZLIES, generously sponsored by Peter Buttle of Buttle plc, locking horns with the 2nd XV of local Hertfordshire rivals, WATFORD, in the Herts Middx Merit Table 4 SW League game kicking off on Pitch 6 @ 2:00pm. GRIZZLIES currently lie 5th in their League. Our GLADIATORS, generously sponsored by R & R Enterprises, are away this afternoon taking on the 2nd XV of local Hertfordshire Club, HITCHIN, in the Herts Middx Merit Table 3 League game, kick off 2:00pm. GLADIATORS currently lie 2nd in their League. Our ROMANS, generously sponsored by Peter Blake-Turner, are enjoying a weekend’s rest. ROMANS are currently 9th in their League.
Our SAINTS, generously sponsored by IHS Markit, currently sit third, one point off the top, in the Championship South East 2 League, are away playing with their Counterparts from OLD ELTHAMIANS, who are the current League Leaders. If anyone reading this wishes to support our Ladies, the kick off is 2:00pm tomorrow, 4 November.
Tomorrow, here at Woollams, from 10:00am on, sees our MINIS & JUNIORS playing a number of competitive games against Teams from across the County. Do come along & watch & support, you won’t be disappointed. They are our STARS of tomorrow !
Richard Milnes, OA RFC President
Head Coach's Preview
Last week we were pleased to return to winning ways but our feelings of delight were also dampened by some frustration that perhaps we weren't quite as clinical as we could have been in the early stages of the game which made for a nervous last few mins where the boys showed great character in defending a 5 point lead with 13 players on the pitch.
This weekend we welcome Redruth to Woolams who sit 2 places and 5 points ahead of us in the table which means both sides have much to play for. Our challenge this week will be continue to build on our solid set-piece platform from last week with good defensive pressure while improving in our ability to take chances and be a little more fluid in some of our attacking phase play.
We welcome Tom Bednall back into the starting XV after a 3 week absence and we are very much looking forward to seeing Tom display the rich vein of form he has demonstrated in the early part of the season. Tom Holdsworth returns in the 13 shirt with Charlie Watson not available and we see the return of Nick Stevens back on the bench, returning from his leg injury.
We look forward to welcoming you to Woolams and your support will be greatly appreciated in what will be a very important fixture before we have a week off next weekend.
Gavin Hogg, Head Coach
Vice Captain Dan Watt took a true leader’s role in this important match between two mid table, under-performing sides and with his input, and the work of the tight scrum, Albanians left Sussex with four, possibly crucial League points. It would be fair to say that, once more, heavy weather was made of a contest which, in the opening quarter, seemed destined to go comfortably in favour of the visitors.
There is a lot of power available to Albanians in the pack and Ross Hamilton, like his deputy in the backs, led by example, ably abetted by the likes of Charlie Hughes, who had a rumbustious performance for the duration.
There is also speed and talent in the young back division which Morgan Thompson set in motion to great effect. More could have been made of the strength and speed of Lloyd Anderson who for too long languished in space on the right wing. All in all a satisfactory start was made and when Ned Warne sped into the left corner after eleven minutes, all seemed well with the world. Watt’s brilliant conversion put an even rosier slant on matters.
League points leader Matt McLean put his side on the board with a penalty as the first quarter came to an end.
What is possible for the OAs became starkly evident when the restart was imperiously claimed by the back row and Thompson sent Watt under the posts, a strike so clinical it startled the large crowd. The centre made the simplest of conversions and the few day trippers from Hertfordshire looked forward to the pleasant hour to come.
Worthing determined to ruin the time remaining to Albanians and their defence tightened immediately and impressively. The run up to half time was dour and, almost inevitably mistakes crept into the visitors’ performance. Liam Perkins took advantage when he charged over just before the interval.
Worthing had the best of the third quarter forcing a turnover in midfield and Ben Holt strode for the line from almost half way. No conversion so the Albanian advantage was now just a single point.
‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’ and the mercurial Watt was on hand to snaffle a loose Raiders pass and sprint from his own half. Again he converted and things seemed to be safe once more.
McLean had other ideas and slotted a penalty with thirteen minutes left and again his side were at least in range of a bonus point.
Then came the nail-biting finish. Phil Ackuaku went clumsily into a tackle on his own ten metre line and after due discussion with his assistant referee Henry Lowis gave him first use of the showers. The situation got worse for the visitors as with less than ten minutes to go, and camped in their own 22 Chris Napier’s match ended with a yellow card when a scrum went down.
There was then an unholy mix of Albanian defence and Worthing error as both sides battled to the finish. The final whistle came just in time!
Redruth make the long journey from the West next week. Kickoff 15.00.
Team - Hughes, Martinez, Chamnaoui, Hamilton (c), Illston, Scopes, Mundy, West, Thompson, Wicks, Warne, Watt, Watson, Anderson, Ricci | Subs - Townsend, Ackuaku, Napier, Hill, Smith
Tries - Warne, Watt x2 | Conversions - Watt x3
Brian Quinn, Press & Publicity
- Year Joined - 2017/18
- Position - Head Coach
- Previous Clubs - Bury St Edmunds
After a tough season, but one where we demonstrated our potential and fighting spirit, we are extremely excited to get back to work and commence our preparations for what we hope will be a successful season in Nat 2 South.
Our retention of a core group of players has been good and with some exciting additions to the playing and coaching/management squad we are hopeful of a return to winning ways.
We look forward to welcoming you all back to Woolams for our pre-season game v Tring and our home fixtures to kick-off the new season.
OAs through history
We introduced #ThrowbackThursday on Social Media in the last few weeks and decided we'd share it in our weekly programmes.
With England playing South Africa at Twickenham this weekend, we thought we'd share this photo from the 1999 tour victory in Durban.