Title race wide open again as late drama shatters Old Albanians

James Shanahan (hidden) is congratulated after his first try. Picture: KEVIN LINES

James Shanahan (hidden) is congratulated after his first try. Picture: KEVIN LINES - Credit: Archant

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.

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.

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“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.