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Old Albanian 35-21 Canterbury
Old Albanian 35-21 Canterbury

Two Old Albanian tries in the final two minutes before half time left Canterbury chasing a game which, until those lapses, was wide open. 

They chased hard, too, dominating the second half but then, incredibly, threw away the bonus point their hard work deserved. The early action had a familiar feel about it with Canterbury dominating possession and territory without making best use of it and then falling behind the first time their defence was tested.

After finding a good touch Albanians set up a series of close drives before Nathan Mitchelowplunged over between the posts and Greg Lound converted.   

Six minutes later Canterbury, again of the front foot, responded and when their forward battering failed to make an impression they whipped the ball wide to make an overlap try for Guy Hilton which Frank Reynolds topped up with a fine conversion.  

They fell behind again to a smart Albanian try as wing Jordan Evans made the most of a clever chip kick and kind bounce, but with only seven point in it and the half drawing to a close the city side looked comfortable until the fatal lapses.

A missed tackle gave Albanians the opportunity to send Jarryd Sage over for his side’s third try and Canterbury quickly folded again. 

A scramble in defence, a yellow card for Sam Rogers and a catch and drive try which saw Lound nail his fourth conversion did the damage. 

From that low point the city side set about a repair job is commanding style. They controlled the second half, playing with pace and verve, chipped away at the deficit with two catch and drive scores from prop Billy Young, both converted, and looked on course for even better things. 

They denied Albanians a score, survived a yellow card for Reynolds and seemed to have secured a losing bonus point.

That was threatened when Lound was given a last minute penalty chance which fell short but with the clock showing red Canterbury just needed to make the ball dead.

Instead they attempted to run from their own line. Was it fine ambition or madness; take your pick? 

The ball was dropped, it gifted Albanians the softest of touchdowns and left the scoreline telling a wildly unrepresentative story.

Canterbury: C.Kingsman, G.Hilton, W.Waddington, L.Hollidge, F.Morgan, F.Reynolds, B.Cooper, B.Young, E.O’Donoghue, D.Herriott, D.Irvine, J.De Vries, S.Rogers, C.Murray, J.Stephens.

Replacements: E.Lusher, C.Macmillan, T.Oliver, P.Farrance.

Pictures supplied by Phillipa Hilton.