Title race wide open again as late drama shatters Old Albanians
PUBLISHED: 09:09 25 January 2016 | UPDATED: 09:23 25 January 2016
A last-gasp converted try shattered Old Albanian Rugby Club and gave Cambridge a huge 26-24 win in the battle for the National Two South title.
Old Albanian RFC 24 Cambridge RFC 26
Harry Bate puts on a tackle for OAs. Picture: KEVIN LINES
Nick Foster makes a break. Picture: KEVIN LINES
OAs on the attack. Picture: KEVIN LINES
Head coach James Shanahan powers through to score against Cambridge. Picture: KEVIN LINES
James Shanahan (hidden) is congratulated after his first try. Picture: KEVIN LINES
Matt Gallagher stops Albert Portsmouth of Cambridge. Picture: KEVIN LINES
James Shanahan kicks for touch. Picture: KEVIN LINES
OAs on the attack against Cambridge in front of a packed grandstand at Woollams. Picture: KEVIN LINES
Sam Lunnon takes the hit for OAs against Cambridge. Picture: KEVIN LINES
Perfect ruck sets OAs up for another phase against Cambridge. Picture: KEVIN LINES
OAs steal the ball from a Cambridge line-out. Picture: KEVIN LINES
Billy Johnson battles for the ball. Picture: KEVIN LINES
Albanians led 24-14 with just 10 minutes to go after two tries from head coach James Shanahan and one each for Ollie Cooper-Millar and Nick Foster.
Brett Dayns gave the visitors hope, adding an unconverted score to converted efforts from Mike Ayrton and Stefen Liebenberg, before a break up the pitch with the last play saw Brendan Burke go under the posts.
James Stokes kicked the conversion to snatch the win.
Cambridge had gone into the game five points behind OAs and while the two bonus points keep the Woollams-based club at the top of the tree, the win could have a significant effect of the championship race.
Shanahan cut a frustrated figure after the game.
He said: “It’s a bitter one because I think we were the better side but at the end of the day the result says otherwise.
“It’s a game we should have won at 10 points up and should have seen out.
“Fair play to Cambridge. They showed a lot of character at 10 points down to get the result but we never should have let them back in it.
“We were 10 points up with 10 minutes to go, we were controlling the game and in their 22 but we didn’t control the ball.”
Both sides had looked nervy in the opening exchanges with the ball being knocked-on on a number of occasions but there was always the hint that scores would not be too long in coming.
Cooper-Millar got things moving finishing off a forward drive on 19 minutes and six minutes later Foster finished off a fine break from Chris May.
That was converted by Matt Gallagher to put OAs 12-0 up but Cambridge pulled one back shortly after through Ayrton.
A yellow card to Jordi Pasqualin just before half-time sent worry through the Albanian supporters but they were soon cheering after the restart when Shanahan shrugged off a few tackles to restore the 12 point advantage.
The teams traded tries from Liebenberg and Shanahan, Gallagher’s missed conversion reducing the gap to 10.
A second yellow for the home side on 65 minutes helped Daynes cut the gap to five before the grandstand finish.