Slow start costs Old Albanian against leaders Doncaster

OA's try to stop Doncaster going over the line

OA's try to stop Doncaster going over the line - Credit: Archant

Old Albanian learned early on in this match that you cannot give the league leaders an easy start and expect to get a happy ending, writes Brian Quinn.

So when speedy left wing Tyson Lewis stole over in the corner directly from his side’s kick-off alarm bells should have rung loud in the home defence.

Yet A’s were stretched again scant moments later when the visitors disrupted a home scrum five metres from the posts. Paul Roberts converted both efforts leaving Albanians facing a 14 point deficit even before some spectators had taken their places.

Slowly the hosts fought back, forcing Doncaster to concede the first penalties of the game, the second of which was well taken by Lawrence Rayner in the eighth minute.

But Doncaster are top of the heap for a reason and pressed their early advantage primarily with a kicking game, looking to make the Albanian back three retreat in the face of incursions by the visitors.

Only the fierce work of Richard Gregg, Sam Stanley and Chris Lombaard in midfield repelled constant attack.

Just into the second quarter hooker Roberto Santamaria was driven over in a driving maul and he crossed again 10 minutes later. Again Roberts was on target and his side had a bonus point at the interval.

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Stung by the way the first half had gone Albanians emerged for the second period with a new sense of purpose and forced Doncaster onto the back foot. Faced with this onslaught the visitors conceded penalties which helped the Albanian positional cause. Andrew Daish broke the last defensive shackles five minutes in for the hosts’ first try and Rayner obliged with the extras.

Rayner’s offload and Nick Stevens support play allowed the flanker over the line three minutes later and again Rayner converted. Now the difference was a more manageable 11 points and the crowd started to believe in a dramatic comeback.

The mid part of the half belonged to Albanians, yet A’s got no closer and five minutes from time Ben Hunter wrapped up the victory.