OAs throw away victory at Loughborough

OAs and Loughborough Students contest a scrum. Picture: Loughborough Students

OAs and Loughborough Students contest a scrum. Picture: Loughborough Students - Credit: Archant

So many times this season Old Albanian seem to have had the measure of their opponents for large or even some parts of respective games only to fail to follow through with early promise, writes Brian Quinn.

Saturday was another case in point since there was plenty of evidence on the field that this match could, and indeed should, have been won.

In the final analysis, once again OAs made too many errors, most of them unforced, and this contributed to a loss which keeps them still in the relegation zone and allows the Students to escape it, at least for the present.

It was evident that the visitors defence was not as crisp as it had been in the honourable loss to Rosslyn Park and, though Loughborough were not as direct as the south Londoners, they still had enough raw pace to penetrate midfield and outside on sufficient occasions to make the difference.

Conversely the students defended with commitment and alacrity so that too many of the OAs attempts to cause a breach outside came to naught.

The students built a 10-3 lead in the first period, with Tom James scoring all the points and starring at scrum half. Richard Gregg’s penalty reply came just into the second quarter.

James increased his tally with a penalty just after the restart but this heralded a period of domination for the visitors when Steve Neville’s try was followed by Billy Johnson’s smart incursion, both of which were converted by Dan Watt.

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The Old Albanian lead was short-lived and Cornish Pirate flanker Jake Parker tore over on the left for Jones to convert. Watt equalled the score with his third successful kick.

Loughborough’s two fliers Jack Pons and Yiannis Loizias settled the matter with two late, unconverted scores.

Bearing in mind the foregoing it is interesting to note that at no point were OA forwards under unrelenting pressure; they did, however, cause alarm in the Students’ ranks for large parts of the game. Three of the Loughborough tries were scored by backs; the two OAs who crossed the line were forwards. It begs the question: “Should the pack be allowed or encouraged to take greater attacking responsibility?”

Fylde will likely be asking more serious questions at Woollams next week, and time is getting short. Kick-off 3pm.