OAs blow Shelford away

OAs keep up winning start

National League 2 South

Old Albanians 39

Shelford 23

OVER the years many individuals have had a moment of madness on television, and on Friday night it fell to a Shelford spokesperson on Cambridgeshire local TV to predict that Shelford had always beaten Old Albanians and no problem was foreseen with the match tomorrow.

And for the first agonising half hour of this all-action match it looked as if this smug prophesy was to be fulfilled. Try as they might OAs could not adjust to the powerful forward play and the southerly wind which blew Shelford kicks all of 60 metres downfield into OAs’ 22. They also struggled against the Anderson brothers, all three of them - particularly Grant at outside centre - who cut through OA defensive gaps, and was first to touch down close to the posts. Fly-half Chris Glynn added the conversion.

OAs fell further behind after two Glynn penalties clicked the scoreboard round to 0-13 and suffered a double blow as hooker Brad James was sin-binned in the 14th minute.

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However, the home side kept their cool and despite fly-half, Richard Gregg, hitting the post with a penalty, drove up to the visitors’ five metre line to be awarded a further penalty tapped by Stefan Liebenberg who went to the open side, reversed the direction and fed Man of the Match Paul Gustard who went over in the corner. The wind spoiled Gregg’s long distance kick.

Shelford still appeared to be in charge as they added a Glynn penalty on 35 minutes to look half time in the face with a reassuring 16-5 lead.

But at last the twin-turbo, race-tuned Formula 1 threshing machine which is the OAs in full flight clicked into gear. An upfield run from Chris Lombaard was halted and the ensuing ruck allowed Chris May to touch down in Shelford’s corner. 16-10 soon became 16-12 with Gregg’s brilliant wind-defying conversion from wide out.

Straight from the kick off May again swept upfield only to be stopped five metres from the line; to Shelford’s horror a misfield of almost Pakistani proportions in the ensuing lineout allowed Matt Alford to crash over and score. No luck for Gregg with this kick, but OAs went into half time 17-16 to the good despite a further yellow card for Gustard who left the field on 34 minutes to his reserved seat on the touchline.

After the break and with the wind assisting kicks this time in OAs’ favour, the scoring continued with a try for Simon Lincoln showing up on the left wing and running in under the posts making Gregg’s kick a formality. A further try which provided the second bonus point of the season followed in slightly over-spectacular style as James Shannahan made a scything break and the ball was cross-kicked from the resultant maul to May to score his second in the corner.

At 32-16 down after the restart Shelford were awarded their first penalty for 20 minutes and within two minutes nearly broke OAs’ grip on the game with a series of drives and penalties leading to their tight head prop, James Armitage, trundling over and under the posts which Glynn converted.

All over? Not for connoisseurs of OA Golden Moments as in injury time James Ellershaw was passed the ball 20 metres out to raise the Woollams roof as he scored and for Gregg to keep his cool when the wind blew the ball off his kicking tee - he picked up the ball and calmly drop-kicked it between the posts to make it 39-23. Not, it is conjectured, what Shelford’s TV pundit had in mind.

OAs: Lincoln, May, Adams, Shannahan, Lombaard, Gregg, Liebenberg, Gelman, James, Cecere, Comb, Alford, Cooper-Millar, White (c) Gustard.

Subs: Spackman, Ellershaw, Gillings, Powell, Evans.