Peter Gavin previews Worthing Raiders v Old Albanian

MATCH 21
Worthing Raiders v Old Albanian
1st February 2020
kick-off 2pm

Old Albanian are our visitors this Saturday. They make the trip down to Roundstone Lane from their extensive facility ‘Woollams’ close to St Albans. OAs are old friends and rivals who have made regular visits to Sunny Worthing for League fixtures over the last couple of decades, dating back to 2003.

Raiders visited ‘Woollams’ in October for the away leg and found the going tough (54-17).

History & Background stuff
St Albans School, founded in 948 AD, making the school amongst the oldest in the country, is at the heart of OA. A few former pupils with the urge to continue to play rugby together formed the club in 1924. A farmer’s field, a WW1 barrack hut for a pavilion and boundless enthusiasm (and a few beers!) got the club going. Originally fixtures were played at a ground known as Beech Bottom, but a move was made in 2002 to the existing extensive facility known as ‘Woollams’. The 70-acre site is named after a generous benefactor to the School and former mayor of St Albans, Charles Woollam.

The club became ‘open’ in 1937 providing rugby for all not just for old boys of the School.
England stalwart prop forward Jeff Probyn started his career at OA. They field 3 or 4 sides on Saturdays with Junior and mini rugby taking over on Sundays (900+ turn up!). Ladies rugby, OA Saints, play in Championship South East 2. The club has a strong link to Saracens, who use the facilities for training.

Club colours: Maroon, Navy & Gold.

Old Albanian last season W12 / D1 / L17 10th 66 points Raiders 9th 68 points
An immediate bounce back to National 1, as achieved in 2016, was not really on the cards. Four matches were lost in the first 8, but a very poor run from mid-December to early February with 7 successive defeats ensured OA would finish in the mid-table pack. Despite this relatively disappointing season they were the only other team apart from TJs to down the colours of run-away Champions RAMs (18-10). The win achieved in the 4th fixture of the season set-off a mini tsunami amongst the result predictors!

Versatile three-quarter Dan Watt led the way with 210pts (10T/59C/14P) from 28 starts with experienced scrum-half Morgan Thompson also making 28 appearances. The club used 50 different players to fulfil the fixtures.

Raiders v Old Albanian
We have played OA at level 5 (aka London 1), level 4 (National 2 South) and level 3 (National League 1). Worthing were promoted to level 4 in 2008, with OA catching up in 2010. In 2012 they gained promotion to level 3, Raiders joining them for season 2013/4. Raiders were relegated, but OA joined us back in level 4 for season 2015/6. They bounced straight back to level 3, although they were relegated again in 2018.

A resume of the National League results and league finishing positions:

2010/11: OA 36 – W 27 / W 32 – OA 25 / W 8th OA 5th
2011/12: OA 50 – W 24 / W 13 – OA 41 / W 3rd OA 1st (promoted)
2013/14: OA 33 – W 20 / W 31 – OA 32 / W 15th (relegated) OA 10th
2015/16: OA 27 – W 3 / W 24 – OA 31 / W 11th OA 2nd (promoted)
2018/19: OA 34 – W34 / W 16 – OA 21 / W 9th OA 10th
2019/20:  OA 54 – W 17

19th October 2019 Old Albanian 54 Worthing Raiders 17
Raiders arrived at ‘Woollams’ on a 4-match losing run and this outing made it 5. OAs ran in 4 tries in each half for a comprehensive victory. Joe Butler added to Raiders’ woes with 7 conversions. (HT 28-3)

Old Albanian: Watt, Ricci, Hallett, Defeo, Hogan, Butler, Thompson: Ramzan, Townsend, Samuel, Napier, Bond T, Gracey, Nuttall, Betts.
Bench: Bond M, Chamnaoui, Benson, Colombo, Wicks
Scorers: T: Gracey (3m), Butler (13), Ricci (22), Defoe x2 (26 & 65), BondT (53), Hogan (60), Hallett (72):C: Butler x7.

Raiders: Gwyther, Forrest H, Forrest J, Dawe, Langley, McLean, Anscombe: Gatford, Gibson, Litterick, Perkins, Lake, Fowler, Holmes, Richards.
Bench: Luke, Cook, Adams, Peach, Beer.
Scorers: T: Gwyther (47m), Richards (79):C: McLean x 2:P: McLean.

This season so far…. W19 / W8 – 48 points 10th (Raiders 9th 48 points W9 / P20)
Since our visit in October OAs have added 4 more wins to their tally: Westcliff (17-19), Sutton & Epsom (22-55), Bournemouth (26-28) and Old Reds (33-3).

Last Saturday they had a close encounter with Taunton Titans (22-23), although Morgan Thompson converted his own try in the 80th minute to effectively gain the losing bonus point. Raiders & OA are level on league points, although Raiders take 9th as they have one more win. OA have a game in hand as the ‘Festive’ fixture at ‘Woollams’, against Leicester Lions, was postponed due to waterlogging. (The Christmas lunch continued as planned.)

Players 
As usual a list of the squad used in last week’s fixture (Taunton Titans) is provided, along with detail on a few other players who have turned out in recent fixtures. It is fair to say that they tend to vary their line-up somewhat from one week to the next, but Nico Defoe (centre) has started in 17 of the 19 fixtures. Experienced scrum-half Morgan Thompson and ex Henley Hawks stand-off Joe Butler have both featured in 16, as has Conor Gracey at open-side.

Hooker Josh Taylor has returned as has experienced No8 Andrew Daish, although he missed the match against Titans.

As is often the case there are a few members, or ex members, of the Saracens Academy likely to be involved. OAs have had quite an influx of fresh talent for this season’s campaign, with 9 of the line-up for the Titans encounter new to the squad this season (although 6 played against Raiders in October). Experienced three-quarter Dan Watt has not been on the sheet since the fixture against Raiders in October.

As usual this fixture bears all the hallmarks of another exciting encounter with both teams likely to be fielding a plethora of young talented players.

OAs is always a tough fixture but, as always, your support on the touchline is a vital ingredient and much appreciated by the players. Please try to get along to add your encouragement to the boys!!!!

….C’Mon Raiders!!!!

Name, Age            *played v Raiders    19th October 2020 Apps 2019/  20 Tot N2 App Joined Points Honours Position Previous Club/s  Appearances

*played v Raiders           

25th Jan 2020 OA v Titans (h) LOST 22-23
Alex Noot  (19) 6 12 2018 2T   Full Back: Saracens U18 Academy
Alex Ricci* (26) 8 32 2018 5T Italy U20 Wing: Leeds Beckett, Verulamians
Tom Bednall (26) 9 56 2017 4T   Centre: University of Cape Town, UCT, ILkley Tigers
Nico Defoe*(24) 17 17 2019 10T   Centre: Cambridge 5, Peterborough 29,

Bedford Blues Academy

Corrado Colombo* (24) 7/3R 10 2019   Wing: Milano Rugby
Joe Butler* (26) 15/1R 16 2019 4T/  18C /7P   Fly Half: Henley*60, Amersham & Chiltern
Morgan Thompson* (32) 15/1R 112 2015 6T/3P /19C   Scrum Half: Chinnor 27, Ealing T* 105
Tom Webb (24) 5/3R 8 2019 1T   LH Prop:
Josh Taylor (24) 7/3R 61 2015/17 2019 Herts Hooker: Saracens 2, Shelford 4, Ampthill 15.
Zaki Chamnaoui*(25) 6/6R 37 2018   TH Prop: Henley Hawks 8, LIWG*28.
Chris Napier* (32) 11/2R 27 2018 1T   Lock: Ballynahinch, Ulster 1
Ashley IIIston (26) 11/3R 40 2018 2T   Lock: Broadstreet, Cinderford, Chinnor
Ethan Benson*(19) 7/2R 9 2019 1T Eng U17 BS Wing Forward: Beckenham, Saracens Academy
Conor Gracey* (25) 16 16 2019 1T Irish Exiles Ire U17 Leics OS Wing Forward: Cambridge 8, Loughborough Students 22, Peterborough 24
Ollie Stonham (18) 10 10 2019 3T Eng U18 No8: Saracens Academy & 7s
BENCH
Matt Ramzan* (20) 7/2R 17 2018 Eng Count & Herts U20 LH Prop: Tabard, Saracens Academy, Hertford
Mike Bond* (23) 2/5R 28 2018 1T Herts Hooker: Bedford & Saracens Academy
Harry Samuel*(18) 11/4R 15 2019 1T   TH Prop: Bristol U18, Hartpury College
Kay Minkiewicz (19) 6/1R 7 2019     OS Wing Forward: Lechia Gdansk
Johno Wicks* (23) 8/5R 22 2018 1T   Fly Half: Cheshunt
Played Recently Last Played  
Josh Hallett* (19) 8 8 2019 5T Eng U16/18     4th Jan Wing: Saracens Academy & 7s
Roddy Giles (24) 5/1R 6 2019 1T/5C /2P 18th Jan Fly Half: Henley*15, Chinnor 3
Andrew Daish (35) 3/2R 114 2010-17 2019 1T Sweden  (35) Herts 18th Jan No8: London Welsh 9, Birmingham &S 32,

Rugby Lions, Nuneaton, Blackheath 17

Nick Stevens (35) 0/2R 103 2011 2T Herts 18th Jan Wing Forward: Luton, Tring
Mike Hogan*(23) 9/1R 14 2018 3T 11th Jan Wing: Leicester Lions 23
Ben Calder (24) 1/2R   2018   18th Jan Scrum Half: Ampthill 13
Tim Bond* (24) 16 57 2016 2T 11th Jan Lock: Cambridge University (B2016)
Nick Grimes (19) 0/3R 3 2019 Herts U20 11th Jan OS Wing Forward: Barnet Elizabethians