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Old Albanians 38 Canterbury 23: National League 2 East match report

By David Haigh

Canterbury’s 38-23 National League 2 East defeat at Old Albanians was a hugely disappointing performance on the back of two convincing victories.

After overturning an 11-point Albanians 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.

Shay Kerry takes a tumble at Old Albanians. Picture: Phillipa Hilton
Shay Kerry takes a tumble at Old Albanians. Picture: Phillipa Hilton

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

A Frank Reynolds penalty goal won them an early lead, but by the 15th 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 Nurse was yellow-carded Reynolds’ penalty nudged his side back into the lead.

Faced with 14 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 backchat to the referee, a minute before half-time, cost another 10 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.

Canterbury's Presley Farrance battles the hosts on Saturday. Picture: Phillipa Hilton
Canterbury's Presley Farrance battles the hosts on Saturday. Picture: Phillipa Hilton

At the start of the second half the city side failed to come away with anything when camped on the Albanians 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 return to action on April 6 when they host sixth-placed Bury St Edmunds (3pm).

Canterbury: Waddington, Jones, Morgan, Best, Orris, Reynolds, Farrance, Lusher, Morris, Herriott, Kerry, De Vries, Murray, O'Donoghue, Stephens. Replacements: Macmillan, Cooper, Hunt, Law, Mackenzie.

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