Old Albanian wins 4 out of 7 age groups and win overall tournament trophy at Braintree RFC.
By Guy Butterworth
Old Albanian Under 6s to Under 12s went to the Braintree Festival today. It was a successful tournament for most of the age groups.
The Under 12s managed to win despite only having the minimum of 13 men in the squad. We had 3 group games against Hadleigh, Woodford and Dagenham which we won 2-0, 3-0 and 6-0 respectively. We had not played against any of these teams before and because of the high standard of the opposition we have arranged fixtures against these teams next year in our first season of Junior rugby.
Due to injuries and holidays our squad was missing 6 key players but Dan Bayliss and Tom Jeffcott came up from the B’s to play for our team and they fitted in really well.
We got through to the knock out stages as group winners and in the semi final we had a very difficult game against the hosts Braintree. We won 3-0 putting in a brilliant performance. Braintree had big forwards so we played a high tempo game, keeping it in the hands, offloading in the tackle to try to avoid rucks and mauls. Tim Davies played well at fly-half and made some very good decisions and James (Courtney) McVeigh put in some of his trademark crunching tackles. It was a very strong performance by OAs, which put us through to the final against Thurrock.
We knew the final would be our hardest match of the day and so it proved to be. Thurrock were the winners of the other group and were also unbeaten. We were well prepared for the final as we had a long huddle and we went through what we needed to focus on and discussed what our strengths are. We won the final 2-1. Our first score was an excellent try by Stephen Kelly diving into the corner and managing to ground the ball before he went into touch. It was a great team try and got us in a good position for half time. Early in the second half we scored another try and we started to keep the ball in hand to run down the clock. In the last play we lost our focus and gave away a 5 metre penalty, which they scored. But we knew that was the last play of the game so knew we had won the tournament. Everyone was delighted and many thanks for the coaches for putting us in the position to win.