No Use for the Other End!
OAs re-emergence from the depths of National One continued apace with a third five point win in a row when Loughborough Students were first of all contained and then dispatched in a thriller at Woollams.
This match was certainly remarkable for several reasons but two are worth mentioning.
A’s came back from a nineteen point deficit at half time to score 34 unanswered points in the second period.This means all 53 points were scored at the same end of the pitch, an indication that the wind played a specific role in the proceedings.
A worrying Albanian tendency carried on in the early stages as the hosts gifted possession and position needlessly to undoubtedly skilful opponents. Too often unforced errors played a part.
Sadly the first quarter was held up for two apparently serious injuries. Firstly Ogwen Obano was stretchered off with leg damage. Then Tadgh McElroy followed with a neck injury. Both medical teams attended immediately to both players and we all wish both a speedy recovery.
Tim Bitirim’s dramatic incursion initiated a period of domination for the visitors and Owen Waters converted. Then either side of the half hour came what, in other circumstances, might have been the killer blows. Callum Watson’s try was converted by Waters who, moments later added a try he was not able to improve.
A hefty disparity left Albanians with a mountain to climb after the break. Yet there was a precedent that triumph could come from adversity: five years ago Loughborough overcame a 34 point half time deficit in this fixture. All OAs had to do was make sure this time the boot was on the other foot!
And so a titanic fightback started. First to the line was Charlie Hughes who barrelled over by the posts for Tom Bednall to add the extras. A minute later Elliot Obatoyinbo proved unstoppable after Nick Foster’s sparkling break. The flying wing got his second after Chris West’s muscular charge and Bednall equalled the scores just into the last quarter.
Foster’s long range effort brought up the bonus point for his side and Sam Lunnon outran a tiring defence two minutes later from near halfway. Bednall’s fine conversion and subsequent penalty completed a happy day at Woollams.
Players have a week’s rest before tackling Cambridge in the next round of what might be the great escape. Cambridge hardly noticed the OA challenge in this season’s corresponding fixture.
To be sure they will have taken notice of Albanian’s last three results.
Press & Publicity
It’s going to be an interesting weekend!
England embroiled with the mighty French and potential grand slammers Ireland set to upend Scotland (to sleep perchance to dream!); at Woollams we have our own drama!
Loughborough have not enjoyed the best of seasons by their own high standards. At the reverse fixture last year the students did a more than competent job on Albanians and there was an element of surprise as to why they, at the time, were occupying such a lowly position in National One.
Things have not got much better for Loughborough and they most likely will be looking over their collective shoulder at those below them in the rankings. As yet they are out of the drop zone but, as the stagger unwinds, they have tricky visits to Plymouth and Esher. They are also due to host Blackheath, Bishops Stortford and high-flying Darlington Mowden Park none of whom are known to take prisoners!
From our own parochial point of view the vista seems somewhat better, especially so bearing in mind the last two results. When you are outside the danger area there is a certain nameless fear that you might cross that intangible border, and that can affect performance. When you have lived in the minefield for months, disaster is something which happens to the other guy!
So much for speculation! On with the facts!
Albanians have enjoyed a mini purple patch of late putting better than thirty points past Fylde and our Stortford neighbours. It might not be too much to hope that the roll will continue a little longer. The students have a draw and a loss to consider over the same period and whether that is sufficient motivation only Saturday will tell.
Much the same side will take the park as featured last weekend minus Harry Elbrow with minor damage but plus the imposing Tadgh McElroy.
Press and Publicity
|Old Albanian Sports Club, 160 Harpenden Rd, St Albans AL3 6BB, UK|