Old Albanian lose to a last minute Ampthill kick

Nick Foster scored one against Ampthill but was then given a yellow card. Picture: DANNY LOO

Nick Foster scored one against Ampthill but was then given a yellow card. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Archant

A last minute penalty consigned Old Albanian to a narrow 18-17 defeat at home to Ampthill.

It was a game that was every bit as close as the score suggests and one where it was always going to be hard on the team that lost.

But Albanian can take a lot of credit from their performance in the drizzly conditions against a side most believe will be challenging at the top end of the table come April.

Handling was a problem for both sides with the ball left greasy from the constant rain.

That was a pattern that would filter through the entire game and was the reason for Ampthill opening the scoring with the first clearcut chance on 12 minutes.

OAs spilled the ball just inside Ampthill’s half and a couple of kick aheads led to Samuel Baker dotting the ball down in the corner.

The hosts thought they had levelled things up when a kick ahead of their own saw George Elliott just beaten to the final touch.

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But they were on the board moments late when Chris May kicked a penalty.

A second penalty from the inside centre on 30 minutes put them ahead but a first successful kick from Ampthill’s Joseph Tarrant sent the visitors into the break 8-6 to the good.

To their credit both teams came out in the second period and tried to pass the ball about.

It didn’t often work with the ball squirming loose in tackles and it was another kick from May which brought the next points.

But on the hour a moment of brilliance from Harry Bate brought Albanian’s only try.

The flanker, who scored twice last week, broke through the middle with a typical surging run and his offload in the tackle set up Nick Foster for the run to the line.

But within seven minutes the full-back had gone from hero to villain.

An Ampthill kick bounced between his legs and in an attempt to recover he pulled back the attacker, resulting in a penalty try and a yellow card.

Ampthill only had a man advantage for a few minutes as Matthew Collins went for an illegal tackle and May slotted the penalty to put OAs back in front.

But in the last minute another knock on gifted Ampthill a scrum and, a solid drive later, a penalty.

Tarrant made no mistake to take the four points for the win back to Bedfordshire.