It was said at the prematch lunch that Hinckley like to give their opponents a handy lead before taking command; the match transpired exactly in that fashion.
In the first quarter Albanians could do little wrong and it seemed whatever they tried ended with a positive outcome. Seven minutes in, after concerted pressure, Greg Lound placed a delicate grubber behind the floundering Hinckley defence. Alex Noot latched onto this and grounded without trouble. Watt’s improving kick was no surprise.
If anything the OA grip on the match tightened in this period when attacking measures, including an imaginative kicking game, were carefully reasoned and well executed. Nic Defeo benefitted in the 16th minute with the second home try after enormous Albanian pressure. Watt again obliged but did not need the kicking tee when As were awarded a penalty try five minutes later.
Inexorably the visitors came to dominate possession up to half time but Albanian defence held firm until Dale Bowyer bundled over with six minutes left and the visiting pack seemed belatedly to appreciate their full power. Rory Vowles took the simple conversion as he did just into the second period when a testing kick bemused OA defenders and Josh Smith crossed by the posts.
A perplexed Albanian side clung onto the narrow lead for nearly half an hour and it seemed stern defence would see them through. However equally stern pressure from Hinckley, especially up front and a steady stream of penalties conceded gradually had its effect and a penalty try was given up along with the automatic conversion going into the last ten minutes.
Given this incentive OAs regrouped and their first cohesive assault in half an hour allowed Noot the narrowest of gaps but too far out for the attempted conversion.
Then with time up Hinckley drove one last time to the Albanian line and it was left to scrum half Ben Pointon to score the final try. This again equalled the scores. Vowles’ nerveless boot settled matters.