OAs fall just short of deserved comeback

Old Albanian

Old Albanian - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian fell five yards short of a remarkable, and perhaps deserved, comeback against Rosslyn Park at Woollams on Saturday.

Andy Holloway’s side trailed for the entire game, in part to a inefficent first half, but they staged a late comeback, fighting back from 24-10 to trail by just three points.

With the ball inside Park’s five metre line and a having been awarded a penalty, OA declined to penalty kick and went for the win. The scrum, in which they had bullied Park for 40 minutes, failed to work though and the chance to score, and with it the game, were lost.

The build up to Saturday’s fixture started at the vice-presidents’ lunch where ex-international and current England backs’ coach Mike Catt, who had earlier led a session with the minis and juniors, was the special guest.

Holloway praised how far his young squad had come and their potential proir to the game but it was Park that imposed their will on the game.

Sam Katz kicked a penalty to give Park an early lead, which Dominic Shabbo padded after collecting a neat kick from Henry Staff over the defensive line.

A 10-point lead became 17 after the visitors set up a powerful rolling maul.

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Facing a uphill battle, OA responded with a sustained period of pressure, which resulted in a lineout drive over the line.

Lawrence Rayner added three points shortly after the restart but Park touched down to take a 24-10 lead.

Suddenly, OA sprung into action and the forwards were too much for Park to handle. It was great work up front that released Billy Johnson for the try and Rayner duly kicked the extras.

Katz kicked another three points to re-established Park’s 10-point lead, and it proved to be decisive as OA narrowed the gap to three as the clock ticked down.

Rayner collected a clearance and orchestrated a swift, cross-field move that saw Chris Lombaard dot down.

OA went in seach of the win and drove the ball into the opponents’ 22 and, needing a win to reignite their league campaign, they went for broke but Park’s defence held firm.