By David Haigh
It is some time since Canterbury enjoyed the luxury of a four-match winning run, but this latest success - a 32-27 National League 2 East win over Old Albanians - was not achieved without serious alarms.
When Frank Morgan's try three minutes into the second half opened up a 19-point lead they appeared to be cruising at a safe height. By the final whistle, however, the city side were clinging onto their seat belts after a revived Albanians sent them into a nosedive.
They survived, despite two yellow cards and a heavy penalty count, to take a full five points and stay sixth in the National 2 East table.
The visitors were first on the scoreboard as wing Hugo Watson nipped through a large hole for a try converted by Sam Jones. When Canterbury got themselves together they levelled matters with No.8 Tyler Oliver's burst off the back of a scrum setting up a try for Eoin O'Donoghue, converted by Frank Reynolds as he compensated for an earlier penalty miss which hit a post.
They fell behind again to a Jones penalty goal but that was the last time Albanians held the lead as Canterbury took command of the first half. They exploited a yellow card for Albanians lock Ashley Illston with two converted scores.
An athletic run from Jesse De Vries won vital territory before flanker Cam Murray burrowed over and as Canterbury continued to apply pressure Tom Best stepped neatly through for the third try.
At 24-10 most sides would have been happy and even more delighted to get the bonus-point touchdown so soon after the break. It was a good score, too, from Morgan as he powered down the left flank and although Reynolds was off target the chill November wind was blowing Canterbury's way.
Albanians, however, refused to be left out in the cold. As the city side frequently incurred the referee’s displeasure and surrendered territory the visitors found fresh energy and resolve and scored two tries in six minutes through forwards Kemp Price and Ben Alexander, both topped up by Jones.
Then, with O'Donoghue and Oliver both serving time in the sin-bin, Canterbury had to find ways to hold on.
A welcome Reynolds penalty goal edged them eight points ahead but when Jones replied late on and Albanians surged forward in a final assault there was tension all over the pitch. A rare penalty award to Canterbury in the last seconds finally brought them huge relief.
Canterbury visit sixth-placed Bury St Edmunds on Saturday (3pm).
Canterbury: Waddngton, Moss (Jones), Morgan, Best, Orris, Reynolds, Williams (Cooper), Macmillan (Lusher), Morris, McColl (Herriott), Stephens, De Vries, Murray, O'Donoghue (Rogers), Oliver.