Cambridge — Old Albanians

One Splendid Hour

For one splendid hour last Saturday it looked like Albanians were going to extend their remarkable recent record with yet another five point win, this time against opponents who had put a half century past them in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season. The last quarter, however, saw a dramatic change in fortune.
From the off the OA backs proved in sparkling form with Jack Daly and particularly Nick Foster making tremendous inroads into a floundering defence. They were aided by the sterling work of Chris West, a rampaging No 8, and a titanic performance by Harry Elbrow who carried effectively and tackled ferociously all afternoon.

An early worry was the strength of the bigger Cambridge pack in the scrum especially when the OA forwards conceded two penalties at the put in; but this was glossed over with the events of the first half hour. The tight scrum had an increasing effect on the match as it progressed and was easily the main reason why Albanians came away with only one league point for their efforts.

All went well at the start and with ten minutes gone Foster’s brilliant handling and rapid reflexes saw him over on the far right. Tom Bednall converted in fine style as he did when Daly crossed in almost the same place just three minutes later. Foster also had a remarkable hand in this try.

Then, to show that the forwards could also exert some influence, Ollie Walliker was driven over from a neat lineout catch and drive.

Just on the half hour Cambridge opened their account when replacement Hooker Ali Rayment crossed from close in. Jake Mcloud followed after three reset scrums for Ben Penfold to convert.

Daly was in the right place again to bring up the Albanian bonus point and for Bednall to convert. Half time came with Albanians on the ascendant.

Thirty eight Cambridge points followed without an OA reply!

The disintegration of the visitors was brought about solely by the dominant Cambridge tight scrum who played for penalties (reset scrums) and field position. Two Albanian players were yellow carded in the course of the proceedings leaving OAs with just thirteen players for better than five minutes. Few sides thrive in that situation. Morale suffered and previously robust defence became porous.

Darren Fox, McLoud (again), Michael Ayrton (twice), Rayment (again) and Tom Emery turned the second period into a painful procession which Albanians seemed powerless to stem.

Four matches remain and, though Loughborough dropped into the danger zone, Hull Ionians are seven points clear with a game in hand. Easter will prove a time of reflection to plan this particular resurrection.

Brian Quinn
Press & Publicity

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Photos Courtesy of
Chris Fell & Bob Coote

Match Preview – Lies, Damned Lies…and statistics!

It probably depends where on the leader board you are how much you agree with the above aphorism. What is known is that, in this enthralling league, anybody can beat anybody on any particular Saturday. Blackheath thrashed Coventry and shortly thereafter lost to Hull Ionians. Such results are legion in these parts.

This is what makes next weekend’s encounter, OAs vs Cambridge, such a mouth-watering event…it is impossible to predict! We can look at all the supposed evidence and unerringly get the outcome totally wrong.

But let’s look at that evidence. In the past month Albanians have staged a mini revival earning five point successes against Bishops Stortford, Fylde and Loughborough Students, scoring over a hundred points in the process. It is fair to say that tails are up and morale is high. But there is much to do yet.

In the same period Cambridge have come second to Coventry, Caldy, Birmingham Moseley and Darlington Mowden Park. It would be unusual if those results did not affect the psyche of a side who, until this last month, will not have been too unhappy with the way the year was going.

Suffice it to say that Albanians will approach this tourney with confidence. It is also to be expected that there should be a backlash against recent happenings in the Fenland camp. There is also the little matter of the last fixture between the two sides at Woollams to consider when the visitors ran riot.

OAs have the chance to struggle from the drop zone; Cambridge won’t want the rot to spread. It depends which side has the most dog!!

Brain Quinn
Press & Publicity

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