Canterbury put to the sword

OAs wrap up third win from four in National 2 South

National 2 South

Old Albanians 43 Canterbury 24

OLD Albanians recorded their third impressive win out of four games played in National Two South this season against Canterbury.

In fact, had it not been for the enthusiastic intervention of the referee’s whistle and the rule book, particularly in the second half, OAs could have notched up even more points.

The conditions were perfect except for the strong northerly wind, to which OAs kicked off the first half. The hosts started brightly enough with good early interchange between Cecere, Chris Lombaard and Terry Adams, countering after the first Canterbury foray. James Ellershaw and Paul Gustard also soon made their presence felt but OA’s gave away three early penalties. Both packs were penalised for engaging too early and it was the penalty from half way by the Canterbury fly-half Tom Best, which opened the scoring.

Canterbury were then gifted a soft try following a very rare mix –up between Gustard and Adams, which allowed the Canterbury No.8 to scoop up the loose ball and go over.

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From a good strike in the set piece, Andy Edwards made good ground before a super piece of sharp passing from Ellershaw, on the hoof, Stefan Liebenberg to James Shanahan, who popped up the scoring pass for Adams brought OAs first try under the post which Simon Lincoln converted.

Whilst OAs were producing some wonderfully entertaining rugby, the old worry of the penalty count against, had once more reared its head and from one of the many, Canterbury regained the lead courtesy of the trusty boot of Best.

Ellershaw went over powerfully for the first of his two tries, scoring on 30 and 34 minutes. For his second, he made huge yards and took three defenders with him.

OAs began to turn the screw and Adams ran a beautiful line for his second of the afternoon, Lincoln went close with the conversion. Unfortunately, Ellershaw succumbed to an ankle injury and was replaced by Charlie Hughes at prop, OA’s second injury of the afternoon. On 45 minutes, Shanahan made way for Richard Gregg. On the stroke of half time OAs struck again through Mark Comb and Gregg converted.

Canterbury took the early second half honours when their dangerous No.8 Baars crashed over, having stolen a lineout. Best once more obliged with the further two points, bringing this roller coaster of a game back to 31-17.

It was at this stage of procedings, that the referee almost brought the game to a halt. Wes Cope had been sin binned and with Ellershaw off injured and Spackman was receiving treatment OA’s had to go uncontested at the scrum.

Following a huge debate with the fourth official, both coaches and most of the players as well, it seemed, the ref decided that OAs should have another man off for not being able to field a front row. Ellershaw gamely offered to hobble back on but it was left to Jack Micans to depart.

However, even with only 13 men on the pitch, a lovely break down the touchline by Mark Evans, which was followed up by Gustard, saw OA’s go further ahead. Gregg converted 38 –17.

It got better, Hughes was then binned and OA’s were down to 12 players for a while, and this time, Canterbury did press home the advantage out wide with OAs running out of defenders.

Matt Alford came on to take OAs back up to 14 and Gregg agonisingly hit the upright from far out with a penalty. The referee promptly stopped proceedings again to discuss the issue of uncontested scrums. This time Evans was asked to leave the field so OAs were back down to 13.

The final action came when Gregg pounced on a loose ball to send Chris Lombaard streaking up the middle of the pitch for a score under the posts. Gregg added the extras.

Next week, OA’s travel to Dings Crusaders before their next home game on the October 9 against leaders Henley.