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Old Albanian 38-23 Canterbury
Old Albanian 38-23 Canterbury

This was a hugely disappointing performance from a Canterbury side that went into this game on the back of two convincing victories. 

After overturning an eleven point Albanian lead in the the first half, discipline and focus deserted them and they lost to a team who scored six tries, were more assured and gave little away in defence. 

There were patches of good rugby from the city side but lack of ideas, handling errors and a failure of concentration raised serious questions about the way they approach their final three games of the season, all of them tough assignments.

A Frank Reynolds penalty goal won an early lead but by the fifteenth minute they found themselves trailing. 

Albanian hooker Charlie Fleckney claimed two tries, both converted by Sam Jones, as the home side worked the phases for the first and exploited a catch and drive for the second. 

Canterbury’s response was to produce their best spell of the match before throwing all the good work away.  Pressure built and points came from a second Reynolds penalty goal and his easy conversion when Alfie Orris finished off a series of close quarter drives. 

A knock on denied them another try but when Albanians Andrew Nurses was yellow carded Reynolds penalty nudged his side back into the lead. 

Faced with fourteen players it was a good time to strike again, but it was the hosts who did the damage. In a game littered with penalties Canterbury conceded two in quick succession which cost them tries.  

A clever lineout ploy left them flat footed as Haydn Barnes marched through a huge gap and back chat to the referee, a minute before half time, cost another ten metres and seven points.

Barnes, from a catch and drive, was the scorer again and Jones converted to make it 26-16 at the break. 

At the start of the second half the city side failed to come away with anything when camped on Albanian line, kicked a ball out of their own scrum and conceded a fifth try. 

A missed tackle saw Nurse skate away for a score converted by Jones and it was back to playing catch up for Canterbury. 

They showed  plenty of attacking intent but much of it was predictable and the home defence swallowed them up. Space was eventually made for Orris in 66th minute and Reynolds kick from wide out was good.

But a yellow card for Eoin O’Donohgue was another blow and Albanians finished their successful day with a late touchdown from Aaqil Attah. 

For Canterbury there were good contributions from Jesse De Vries and Cameron Murray but, as a team, they have plenty to reflect on if they are to retain their seventh place in National 2 East.

Canterbury: W.Waddington, G.Jones, F.Morgan, T.Best, A.Orris, F.Reynolds, P.Farrance, E.Lusher, N/Morris, D.Herriott, S.Kerry, J.De Vries, C.Murray, E.O’Donoghue, J.Stephens/

Replacements: C.Macmillan, B.Cooper, W.Hunt, B.Law, T.Mackenzie.

Pictures supplied by Phillipa Hilton.