Remarkable turnaround continues charge to safety
PUBLISHED: 10:30 15 March 2018
Whatever the outcome of Old Albanian's battle with relegation from National One this season one thing is certain - this game will live long in the memory of those down at Woollams for many years to come.
Trailing 19-0 at half-time to Loughborough Students, one of their main adversaries at the foot of the table, OAs produced a stunning second half to win 34-19.
Elliot Obatoyinbo bagged two of the five tries with Charlie Hughes, Nick Foster and Sam Lunnon chipping in with the others.
There was a downside to the win with both Ogwen Obano and Tadgh McElroy retiring with injuries to a leg and neck respectively.
And the news of Hull Ionians’ victory over Caldy would not have been well-received as it means OAs are still seven points from safety with five games left, and having played one more than their rivals.
But the mood at Woollams is a buoyant one with this third successive five-point haul giving the team, and their supporters, much confidence.
This fixture does have previous when it comes to remarkable comebacks, with Loughborough recovering from a 34-point half-time deficit five years ago.
But that thought was a long way from the minds after the first 40 minutes here.
Tim Bitirim’s incursion, and Owen Waters’ conversion, initiated a period of domination for the visitors in the first period.
Obano and McElroy had both departed by this point, the former on a stretcher, and two tries either side of the half-hour seemed to have proved pivotal.
Callum Watson’s try was converted by Waters and he added a try himself moments later for a 19-0 lead at the break.
But whatever was said at half-time worked.
Hughes barrelled over by the posts for Tom Bednall to convert and a minute later Obatoyinbo proved unstoppable after Nick Foster’s break.
He added a second after Chris West’s muscular charge and Bednall equalled the scores just into the last quarter.
Foster brought up the bonus point before Lunnon outran a tiring defence for the fifth.
Bednall’s conversion and subsequent penalty completed a happy day at Woollams.
Albanian now have a week off before resuming their charge with a trip to Cambridge.