The wind blew straight from the Ural Mountains during this furiously contested match and both sides will wonder why they didn’t make better use of it when it was available. It is standard practice to kick, carefully, for position with the breeze at your back and, once firmly in your opponents half, do something technical thereafter; yet neither outfit managed this in a way to stamp authority on proceedings.
That said, Leicester were more forthright throughout and had the Lions’ share of possession. Position was more equal and for most of the match, OAs defence negated sharp attacks from increasingly confident opponents. Ben Young ran matters well for the visitors from fly half and Nick Cairns was a constant thorn in Albanian sides at No 8. Too often, however, a promising attack ignored the overlap and turned back inside where it met a staunch OA cover defence. Straightforward possession from the lineout should have yielded more points for the Midlanders who will consider themselves unlucky with such a close final score.
Elliott McPhun stole the show, in domestic terms, for Albanians and was constantly in the thick of the action. His two tries were testament enough to what was possible with the proper application but his efforts alone were not quite enough to secure a victory.
Those of Leicester’s Ben Young were quite enough and his clean sweep of a try, conversion and three penalties made the journey back North a happy one.