Match report Rob Kershaw / Photography David Cunningham
Albion 17 Cinderford 10
A late try from Tom Putt secured four points for Albion against fifth-placed Cinderford at an electric Brickfields on Saturday afternoon.
A competitive opening few minutes saw both sides ship penalties, but the visitors began to assert some early control, keeping the ball firmly in Albion’s half. Cinderford are famous for their forward play, boasting a front row with oodles of Premiership experience and commenced an all-out assault on Albion’s line. To a man, Albion commenced a valiant defensive effort, both legal and not so as penalties kept them pinned in their 22.
The pressure eventually paid off 12 minutes in when Nathan Taylor drove over from a maul, but Albion came up with an immediate and spectacular response from deep in their half, Mills broke out from his 22, the ball was spread from the resultant breakdown and Putt scored with what was the first real attack from the home team.
Cinderford went back to type and a yellow card for Torin Clarke came after more powerplay in the Plymouth 22 was adjusted to be stopped illegally. Albion however continued to stand firm, and the fourteen men gained respite when, facing a brick wall of defence, the ball was knocked on. Slowly Albion began to gain a toehold in the game and make some play themselves.
After a spell of good possession, Albion found a breakthrough again. Jack Oulton played a delicious 50-22. The lineout was taken quickly, and captain fantastic Herbie Stupple powered over to edge the home team in front.
With the wind at their backs, Cinderford made a telling decision to level things up with a penalty rather than look for the corner as Austin levelled things up with a crisp penalty. It was Albion who would finish the half the stronger, earning a line-out and a scrum from close range. However, it came to nothing, and the two sides went in level.
The Ocean City’s finest started the second half in the ascendency, and the pack began to show their teeth as a scrum led to a penalty on Cinderford’s five-metre line. With the tight forwards more than matching their illustrious opponents, a promising sequence of attack was only thwarted by a knock-on.
Cinderford are fifth placed in the league for good reason and found themselves with a chance to score the second half’s first points, but Austin sliced a long-range penalty. Again, the Albion defence then stood firm, and they exited once again. It was clear to see frustration grow in the Cinderford rank as their best efforts were now being repelled by Albion’s aggressive defence. Jeremy To’a and man of the match Jake Clemson were at the forefront with some bone-crunching hits.
With 10 to go, and the second half still scoreless, The Brickfields was ready to erupt at a late Albion try, which was duly delivered.
Welshman Henry Clement got the ball in space on the wing, drew the last defender and offered a sublime offload to fellow countryman, the returning Craig Duncan. The navy man took the ball deep into the opposition 22, drew the cover defence and released Putt for the crucial score. The home faithful of well over a thousand went into raptures as Putt scored and converted the winner.
With Albion in the ascendancy, the team saw out the final minutes of the game comfortably and set a new bar for home performances at what is fast becoming fortress Brickfields.
With a bigger gate than the league leaders in the division above, an electric atmosphere, and some real graft on the pitch, Albion are starting to show form the faithful have deserved for quite some time. With 11 games still to play, Albion now have more league points than last season and a lot to be excited about as they face a sequence of 4 games against teams from the bottom half of the table.
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Ramaz Rukhadze, Jamie Salter, Hayden King, Jake Clemson, Dan Collier, Torin Clarke, George Mills, Herbie Stupple, Jack Oulton, Phil Jones, Frankie Nowell, Connor Eastgate, Jeremy To’a, Henry Clement, Tom Putt
Replacements: Angus Hodges, Davy McGregor, Kye Beasley, Charlie Groves, Craig Duncan
George Porter, Nathan Taylor, Shaun Knight, Danny Hodge, Jack Shields, Johnny Holliday, Dec Fissenden, Harry Hone, Morgan Adderly-Jones, Will Baldwin, George Gladding, Jamie Forrester, Will Hendy, George Boulton, Mike Austin
Replacements: Tim Brockett, Sam Baker, Matthew Bennett, George Angell, Jimmy Williams