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Worthing settled quickly and for the first 10 minutes pressed until gaining a kickable penalty for an offside at the ruck offence. Ambitiously they kicked for the line out 10 metres out, but the drive to the line was blocked and possession was lost in mid field as the ball was run wide.
Albanians forced their way up field through the middle and a line out following a penalty for offside gave their splendid scrum half, Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier, no less, a chance to set his backs running and right wing Ollie Marchont found the space to run in behind the posts.
An unusually loose restart by our expert Joe Govett allowed Albanians to gain control again immediately and their no 10, James Shanahan, broke the defence and released centre Chris Lombaard to cross the line. Score 14 0 on 14 minutes and Worthing wilted.
They are too good a side though to crack, and after a bit of strong talking under the posts, they fought their way back into the game. They started playing with pace and verve sharing the possession and energetically started to break up the Albanians pattern of play. Then on 28 minutes Finlay Coxon-Smith powered through up the middle and as Albanians killed the ruck to prevent the score under the posts, they conceded a penalty. Their flanker saw the yellow for that and Worthing chose to scrummage.
Rob Smith picked up at the back and the move swung right for Matt McLean to free Jack Maslen into the corner. The drop out was fielded by Kiba Richards who powered up across the half way line and the ball was recycled quickly out to Matt out wide in space on the left, he slipped the defence at pace and won the race to the line. His conversion took the score to 14 - 12
Worthing now had control and as Albanians lost their composure, Matt scored again in the right hand corner. His magnificent conversion kick took the score to 14 - 19. Deservedly in the lead Worthing needed to hang on until half time.
Then critically, an obstruction offence gave Albanians possession near the half way line and JB Bruzuliar freed Ollie Marchont again at pace on a great running line, and he scored near the posts. 21 - 19 at the break. The large crowd showed their appreciation as the players left the field.
No doubt that the outcome of the first minutes of the second half were going to prove vital. Albanians struck first and it set them up for what proved to be a comfortable victory. They ultimately controlled the possession and the game as the assured James Shanahan appeared to find more and more space and protection from the marauding Worthing back row.
Their no 8 Andrew Daish touched down first as Albanians dominated the field play early on. Worthing were being forced to attack from deep off their own possession, or from optimistic runs from clearance kicks, but on 56 minutes they were rewarded with a try from Kiba Richards. They had chosen to scrummage a penalty and as Rob Smith and Jamie Redmayne crossed the gain line, Kiba was freed at last to touch down and with the score 26 - 24, the result was still in the balance.
Then as Albanians attacked again and knocked on,Worthing were awarded a scrum near the 22 line. The transfer was slow however at the back of the scrum and as they looked to run the ball out the pass was easily intercepted by JBBruzulier to score under the posts. A penalty soon after was drilled home by the prolific Richard Gregg. That took the score to 36 - 24 and it was game over, in psychological terms at least!
Finally two more converted tries at 75 and 78 minutes took the Albanians to a slightly flattering 50. They are not quite cut and dried champions yet but frankly they look to be well capable of being a force to be reckoned with in Division 1 with their present squad. Good luck to them and congratulations to their chairman Rory Davies (formerly a Worthing 1st 15 scrum half) and player coach James Shanahan.
Final score 50 - 24 and 1 league point earned by Raiders. A hard game well fought!