By Jack Guthrie
After a battle at the Brickfields, a galvanised Plymouth Albion side were victorious as they won 21-10 against Old Elthamians in their National Division One match on Saturday, after their incredible second-half defensive effort saw them shut out the south-eastern London side.
Head coach James Scaysbrook credited the performance to the team-work and togetherness from the players saying: “it was definitely a real performance that showed the players are willing to work for each other. They put a lot of pressure on our line and we fought really hard and you can definitely see that the rest of our game is coming together.”
He continued by praising the quality of the opponent saying: “they’re a really good team who are high in the league, and they played really well. They certainly put us under some pressure, but the lads came out on top in the end just by sticking to the process.”
Aiming to follow in the footsteps that saw them win last weekend away to Rotherham Titans, there was only one change to Scaysbrook’s side with Dan Collier coming in for Dan Swain.
Albion were slow off the mark in the first half, gifting a simple try to the away side after five minutes of play. A break down the right-wing was made by Oliver Bryant who found winger Alex Goble with an inside pass which put him through to the line, Bryant then converting from the tee.
Albion didn’t crumble however and took the game to the opposition, eventually scoring through Koree Britton after a driving maul from a line-out. Connor Eastgate made the scoreline even and the home side continued to ramp up the pressure.
Shortly after, Eastgate was in for a try of his own after a well-worked passing move from the breakdown saw him in a one-on-one with fullback Louis Brown where he faked a pass and breezed over the line. Once again, he was good from the tee and Albion held on until half-time, leading by seven points.
Albion looked a little shaky coming out of the break, and Old Elthamians forced the hosts back on their try line. After 10 minutes of resolute defending on the line, Albion forced an error and regained the ball after continuous battering phases from the away side.
Old Elthamians kept the scoreboard ticking over as they went for goal from a penalty just outside the home 22 with Bryant scoring again, leaving a four-point gap between the sides.
Both sides continued to defend ruthlessly until the closing stages of the game. Albion managed to create some clear chances in the final moments, with Josh Skelcey acting as a catalyst for their offence after being substituted on for Shea Cornish.
Some powerful phases of pick-and-go from the scrum forced the London outfit back onto their try line. Albion substitute Scott Makepeace managed to break the line but knocked the ball forward in the tackle as he went to ground the ball for the try.
Albion continued to press and turned the ball over from a ruck. The ball was played out to Josh Skelcey who skipped past half the defensive line to the centre of the 22-yard-area. A grubber kick from Connor Eastgate was almost touched down by Dean Squire, but the ball went into touch in the dead-zone giving the visitors a five-metre-scrum.
Albion eventually capitalised on the pressure they forced upon Old Elthamians, as another penalty was kicked to touch. Albion brought down the ball and mauled over the line with ease, with Jamie Salter touching the ball down to seal the game. This is now a regular sight for Plymouth fans and Jamie Salter with this being his ninth try this season.
After such an incredible defensive display, Albion will be confident moving forward knowing that they have been able to recover despite conceding early on in games. Against one of the stronger sides in the league this year their prowess in powerful tackling was fully on display, posing a statement to the rest of the league. Despite it being such a short period since the appointment of Scaysbrook, the team looks to be coming together in a particularly devastating fashion.
15. C. Eastgate 14. S. Cornish 13. D. Squire 12. J. Pohe 11. A. Ducker 10. S. Morley 9. J. Snow 1. K. Britton 2. J. Salter 3. J. Higgins 4. D. Collier 5. L. Pearson 6. J. Kelly 7. G. Mills 8. R. Tuima
16. P. Ingoldsby 17. S. Makepeace 18. C. Setter 19. A. Smith 20. J. Skelcey
Tries: K. Britton, C. Eastgate, J. Salter
Convs: C. Eastgate (3)
15. L. Brown 14. A. Goble 13. M. Koteczky 12. G. Eastwell 11. A. Brown 10. O. Bryant 9. O. Claxton 1. T. Concu 2. J. Saunders 3. A. Hay 4. D. Flashman 5. P.J. Parker 6. H. Ledger 7. H. Barton 8. M. Kovacic
16. C. Holenstein 17. N. Morris 18. D. McGeekie 19. R. Morgan 20. B.H.A. Hotston
Tries: A. Goble
Convs: O. Bryant
Pens: O. Bryant
View the match highlights by clicking the link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2F2rMnCS4E&t=20s