Loughborough Students taught a lesson by OAs
- Credit: Archant
Loughborough arrived confident in the knowledge that they had triumphed in all three meetings with Old Albanian, writes Brian Quinn.
In their last appearance at Woollams they had overcome a 34-point half-time deficit and on Saturday they started with an advantage of the stiff breeze and accompanying downpour,.
George Eastwell took advantage of this with seven minutes gone when he broke from a maul 20 metres out and trotted over unopposed. Chris Surman converted and he was also successful with a penalty with 14 minutes gone and another three minutes later.
Things changed just into the second quarter when Matt Chambers was unlucky not to profit from a chargedown and the ball was hacked upfield. Jimmy Spiers was able to gather and tore into the elements, setting up a move. Chris May was on the end of the overlap but dislocated his shoulder as he grounded the ball by the corner flag. Lawrence Rayner converted from the furthest possible distance against wind and rain to the acclamation of the onlookers.
Play remained in midfield for most of the next 10 minutes, punctuated by a penalty apiece for Surman and Rayner. Albanians seemed to grow in confidence having withstood the early pressure and sought to run possession out of their 22. In a desperate attempt to stop another overlap, visiting winger Alex Lewis got just one hand to an ambitious OA pass and was summarily sent to the bin.
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One player up, A’s took play to the Loughborough line and the power of the attacking scrum forced a penalty try. Rayner’s conversion took his side into the narrowest of half-time leads but Albanians now had the weather gage to look forward to.
The elements and the implacable home scrum dominated the second period to the extent that the Students got into the hosts’ territory but once in the entire half.
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Five minutes in Hayden Stringer was on the end of a pushover to stretch the lead. All the while Billy Johnson, who had a titanic captain’s game, drove his men forward.
Rayner gave his side plenty of leeway with two further penalties. It fell to Ian Vass to apply the final gloss when he crossed for the bonus point try with the last action of the game.
This makes three wins on the trot for Albanians, who are now happily ensconced in mid table and look forward to the Christmas break. They journey to Tynedale on January 4 in search of the happiest of New Years.