Match Report – Old Albanian vs Canterbury 1st XV
OLD ALBANIAN 29 CANTERBURY 21
Canterbury are still without a league point as they slipped to a second narrow defeat which leaves them in the depths of the National 2 South table. Once again it was a case of what might have been in a performance that was good at times but spoiled by their own carelessness.
Twice the city club took the lead with well-worked tries; twice they allowed Albanians to claim the restarts and swiftly rub out the advantage with scores of their own. Those basic failures and missed opportunities in the second half were to prove fatal. It was frustrating because Canterbury were always in the hunt once the game opened up after a nondescript first twenty minutes in which the home side dominated territory. Dan Watt kicked them into the lead with a penalty goal but Canterbury’s first real pressure brought a clever, sniping try from scrum half Tom Williams which Frank Reynolds converted. The joy of that lasted under two minutes. At the restart Albanian wing Alex Ricci claimed the ball almost unchallenged, sprinted away to score and Watt’s conversion made the error more painful.
With both sides willing to run the ball the action was easy on the eye compared with the kick fests we have seen at higher levels and by half time Canterbury had reclaimed the lead. A yellow card for Ricci was quickly punished as full back Kyan Braithwaite rounded off a sweeping attack and Reynolds increased the margin to four points. Albanian backs got into their stride eight minutes into the second half, slick hands bringing a powerful finish by Tom Mills, with Watt again converting, but Canterbury found a different route to success. A driving maul broke Albanians with Tristan King claiming the try and Reynolds adding a third conversion. It could have been a vital score. Instead, that second failure of the basics and lessons unlearned saw Albanians grab the restart, march downfield where Morgan Thompson hammered his way over the line. Watt made the kick good and with ten minutes left on the clock Canterbury’s hopes took a dive when Tyler Oliver was yellow carded. The home side went for the kill and it duly came with a bonus point try for back rower Ben Charnock.