Another win for OAs

Old Albanian 28 Cinderford 25 National League One

OLD ALBANIAN made it three wins on the bounce on Saturday with a last-gasp victory over Cinderford at Woollams, writes Brian Quinn.

Cinderford turned possession over when OA mounted their first real attack after 13 minutes and a penalty allowed them to clear their lines.

But five minutes later holding down at the lineout earned them the smart rebuke of a penalty against them which took play to their 22. James Shanahan found the first real gap into which he put Chris May who crossed by the posts. Lawrence Rayner’s conversion attempt was missed.

Thus far Albanian had done well in broken play, but the visitors managed their own first foray into opposition territory. There they released Nev Codlin and the speedy wing cleverly rode two tackles into the right corner. Again the improving kick failed.

Minutes later Mark Davies, the visiting fly half, got close enough to the OA posts to land a neat drop goal. This was cancelled out shortly after when, 30 metres out from the Cinderford posts, Brett McNamee took a strike against the head and, from the resulting penalty, Rayner notched his first points of the day.

Just before half time Dale Critchley was sin-binned for not rolling away and Albanians assaulted the Cinderford line in an attempt to make the personnel advantage count. Five phases of pick and drive ended when Stefan Liebenberg darted over for Rayner to convert and make the interval score 15-8.

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Despite a lengthy period deep in the visitors’ territory the half was fully 16 minutes old before Rayner troubled the scores again with his second penalty.

At the end of the third quarter Rob Farenheim was yellow-carded, also for not rolling away and the visitors set about reducing their deficit. Hooker Tom Bozzard drove over on 24 minutes for Davies to convert; he tied the score two minutes later with a penalty after fierce Cinderford pressure and converted the try scored by Robbie Winchle who intercepted a loose pass just inside the Albanian half.

Conceding 17 points in 10 minutes is a tough situation to come back from and matters got worse when Lloyd Bickle was unaccountably sent to the bin with just nine minutes to play. It is a measure of the team’s maturity and attitude that pressure was absorbed and play driven into the Cinderford half and just three minutes later Liebenberg scored his second, again from close range. Richard Gregg, Rayner’s replacement, brought the scores level. Gregg also had the final say in stoppage time when he struck the sweetest of dropped goals to win the game.

Coach Shanahan was delighted with the way his side had stuck to their guns. “We have beaten two top five sides in two weeks,” he said.

“We made more mistakes than last week but we recovered from them quicker than Cinderford recovered from theirs. We are now in mid-table and I believe we now have some momentum.

“The side is learning so much and we are now starting to put it into practice.”

Old Albanian: Marchon, May, Lombaard, Rayner, Collins; Shanahan, Liebenberg; Hughes, McNamee, Cade, Bickle, Johnson (c), Daish, Faranheim, Chambers.

Replacements: Cope, Schillaci, Hamilton, Gregg, Speirs.