Old Albanian lose pulsating derby against Bishop’s Stortford

Harry Bate added to his try tally this season with one more against Bishop's Stortford. Picture: NEI

Harry Bate added to his try tally this season with one more against Bishop's Stortford. Picture: NEIL BALDWIN PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

Local derbies are meant to be this exciting and the losing side, if there is one, will always remember the moments which turned the game.

The strike against the head which led to the final try could be said to be the crucial moment but this encounter might have been decided long before if OAs had been a little tighter in execution.

Stortford’s precision was slightly better than Albanians for most of the first half when the hosts faced the sun and the wind and it was no surprise when they took the lead after six minutes with George Cullen’s first penalty.

He increased the advantage to 6-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Matt Gallagher levelled matters with two strikes of his own coming up to the half-hour and that is the way the half ended.

Stortford would have been pleased with the way their scrum went in the first period and they had a definite edge at the line-out all afternoon.

Albanian broken play made the counter attack a handy option.

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Gallagher nudged his side in front five minutes after the restart after a ruck infringement and Albanians were happy to maintain that advantage for the next 20 minutes in reasonably comfortable style.

Another Gallagher, Mike, shook matters up with 64 minutes gone when he stepped through the visitors’ cover defence on his left for Cullen to convert.

Over-ambition led to a Stortford knock-on on the Albanian 22 and the loose ball was picked up by James Shanahan.

He fed the rampaging Harry Bate who charged half the length of the field to end between the sticks.

Gallagher’s improvement gave A’s a three point lead with eight minutes to go.

Then came that scrum and pressure in the Albanian 22 which ultimately let Dom Morris in wide on the left.

Cullen converted magnificently to give Stortford a 20-16 win.

Cambridge return to pole position in the League with OAs 10 points ahead of Stortford.

There are now some tricky fixtures to be played, the toughest of which is likely to be the visit to Redruth in the middle of February but away games at Taunton and Clifton might also rattle Albanian nerves.

In the meantime the consolidation process starts when Chinnor are greeted at Woollams next Saturday.

Kick-off is at 3pm.