League leaders stunned as Old Albanian hand out first loss in stylish performance
- Credit: Archant
Old Albanian’s somewhat slow start to this new season was given a sizeable fillip with this timely 33-31 victory over table-topping Darlington Mowden Park.
Head Coach Gavin Hogg has promised incremental improvements in performance and he will not be disappointed with the all round activity displayed by his men.
Some strength in depth was also on display as OAs welcomed back Ross Hamilton from injury and Nick Foster.
Billy Walker and Danny Cutmore also appeared on rotation and each put in a sterling shift.
Yet drama there was aplenty and the large family crowd were treated to an exciting match where once more the lead changed hands several times in short order.
The first quarter saw A’s take a confident 13-point lead.
A great break in midfield gave Tom Bednall the space to round a stretched defence on the right and touch down by the posts.
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Dan Watt, who enjoyed a 100 per cent kicking day and 15 points, took the simple conversion and added two further penalties.
But by half-time DMP were 18-13 ahead, thanks to two penalties and tries from Adam Radwan and Brandon Asher-Wood.
The home scrum and line-out worked well all game, as did the backline, so it was no surprise when Reuben Bird-Tulloch’s superb floated pass gave Bednall his second opportunity.
Watt’s conversion restored the Albanian lead only for Brett Connon to wrest it back again with a three-pointer.
The pair then traded penalties as the match entered its nerve jangling final stage.
With four minutes to go Bird-Tulloch seemed to have put the result beyond doubt, barrelling through two despairing tackles to the posts. Watt again improved but was yellow carded shortly after for a technical offence and Simon Uzokwe notched the inevitable touchdown for Connon to give the league leaders a one-point lead.
But Albanian forwards surged upfield in added time and put sufficient pressure on tiring opponents to force a penalty 33 metres out, left of the sticks.
Two try hero Bednall took Watt’s place before the tee and, to the relief of spectators collectively holding their breath, drilled the ball through the posts.