This weekend, Loughborough Students travelled away to Old Albanian. From a quick glance at the league table, it was clear from the start that the game was going to be evenly matched: Old Albanian up to this point had three wins and three losses to their name and the team in purple were sat on two wins, one draw and three losses.
Dry, cool autumnal conditions posed a great opportunity for both teams to play some hands on, attacking rugby and it didn’t disappoint. Both teams demonstrated great attacking play but it was Old Albanian whom struggled with the execution. In terms of defence, the home team looked strong but often suffered in broken play comparably to Loughborough’s whom maintained a solid defence for the majority of the match.
Old Albanian kicked off the game with a short, high kick which was scooped up by the team in purple. Looking dangerous on the attack, Loughborough’s first score came only minutes later. A great straight line drew in the last defender and the pass was given to Yiannis Loizias, who touched the ball down in the corner. A difficult kick meant the score stayed at 5-0 to Loughborough.
From then, the home side took the game to Loughborough and spent a large proportion of their time fighting their way into the visitor’s half. Phase after phase the Old Albanain’s forwards carried hard but went unrewarded. When it finally seemed they had got over the try line, Loughborough had managed to hold the ball up. Moments later, the home side’s luck changed as Brian Tuilagi scored in the corner. The conversion was made.
After the restart, Loughborough gained a penalty, and Josh Sharp sailed it through the posts. The game continued to be a backwards and forwards affair with some great showcases of skill from both sides.
One of the most exciting individual tries of the game came from full back Will Edwards. After a big clearance kick from Old Albanian, Edwards caught the ball, and made the decision to run it back. Little did he know, he would be heading straight for the try line, beating numerous defenders. A great display of pace was rewarded with a try and a conversion.
Up to half-time, Loughborough had both possession and territory, which resulted in another try created by Harry Simmons and scored by Austin Beckett.
Half time score: Old Albanian 7 – 22 Loughborough
The first few minutes of the second half saw plenty of kicking to and fro, as both sides hunted for territory but it was the home side who were victorious in this instance. After a lineout just inside Loughborough’s 22, the pressure really started to pile on the defence. Eventually, Old Albanian’s Alexander Gliksten got over the line, leaving the home side only eight points behind.
This seemed to awaken the Loughborough side, and strong attacking play led Old Albanian’s to give away two penalties, giving the visitors a fourteen-point gap. Loughborough then scored their fourth try from a chip and chase. The conversion by Josh Sharp made it 14-35 to the team in purple.
In the final ten minutes however, Loughborough’s defence seemed to crumble as the home side managed to run in two tries making the score 26-35.
The game ended in with a kick into touch by Josh Sharp, securing the win and the bonus point for Loughborough.
Full-time score: Old Albanian 26-35 Loughborough
After the match Richard Milnes, President of Old Albanians said: ‘It was a fantastic game and Loughborough deserved the win. Their running rugby was really something exceptional and at National 1 the running rugby we watch week in, week out is fantastic. We came up short this time but we will meet again later on in the year and we will see what happens then. It was a great game’
Going into next week, Loughborough Students have moved into 7th place in the National 1 standings. The side take on 6th place Darlington at Epinal Way (Saturday 22nd) with a 2pm kick off.
- Ricci Brugnara 2. Issac Miller (C) 3. Ben Betts 4. James Lasis 5. Simon Pitfield 6. Mat MacPherson 7. Andrew Boyce 8. Charlie Kingham 9. Harry Simmons 10. Josh Sharp (VC) 11. Austin Beckett 12. Gair Currie 13. Joe Doyle 14. Yiannis Loizias 15. Will Edwards (VC) Replacements: 16. Ollie Adams 17. Ben Christie 18. Conor Gracey 19. Sam Pointon 20. Charlie Dockery
- Karl Garside 2. Matthew Miles 3. Garret Doman-Cann 4. Lloyd Bickle 5. Billy Johnson 6. Brian Tuilagi 7. Harry Bate 8. Andrew Daish 9. Alexander Gliksten 10. James Shanahan 11. Oliver Burgess 12. Johannes Lombaard 13. Craig Dowsett 14. James Speirs 15. Benjamin Palmer Replacements: 16. Joshua Taylor 17. Taylor Reed 18. Sam Lunnon 19. Morgan Thompson 20. Jack Nay