Old Albanians 29 Blaydon 24
To maintain their status in National League One Blaydon needed at the very least to beat Old Albanians but despite a valiant effort failed narrowly in the attempt and relegation to North Two now awaits. Had they won, and even with a bonus point, the outcome would have been identical however as rivals Hull Ionians guaranteed their own survival with a resounding away win.
They gave it their best shot but the day that had started badly when their train was held up for two and a half hours with a track problem resulting in the start being put back 30 minutes, then ended badly when with the scores level a fortuitous bounce in the final minute let in the home side for a winning try.
Blaydon it was however who opened the scoring on 17 minutes when they moved it 3 times through the backs before sending in No8 Jason Smithson to touch down in his final game for the club before retirement, and Brett Connon adding the extras.
The lead proved to be short lived as Albanians hit back with a concerted attack that ended when Max Mallins crossed in the corner and added the conversion himself,, and just before the break also added the points when centre Jason Lombard touched down between the posts.
A 14-7 lead then for the home side which was improved soon after the restart with a Mallins penalty following a ruck offence but Blaydon were back in contention when good ball was swiftly moved through the backs for flanker Jack Davidson to finish off and Connon to level the game with another conversion.
Play now rattled along from one end to the other, Albanians getting their heads in front again when Blaydon were penalised at a ruck and a penalty try was awarded, Mallins once more on target. With time running out Blaydon produced one last effort to ensure at least a draw, prolific winger Dan Marshall scooting in and Connon landing a tremendous conversion from out wide to make it 24-24.
There was just time for the restart but Blaydon failed to secure the kick-off, the ball bounced badly and Sam Lunnon had a simple run-in to seal Blaydon’s fate.
Ironically when these two sides met at Crow Trees in the opening game of the season Old Albanians were returning to Nat One after a years absence and now in the final game were condemning Blaydon to a similar fate.