It is often said that the league table doesn’t lie and, with just over half the game gone at Paton Field, there wouldn’t be many rugby pundits who would disagree. Following their 300-mile trip from Devon to Cheshire, Albion seemingly hadn’t gotten off the bus and top of the table Caldy were 40-0 up.
To their credit, the hosts were on fine form and a depleted Albion side were dogged but unfortunate in their endeavour. Indeed, the opening exchange of the game was all Albion as the Ocean Cities’ finest started by testing the northerner’s defence. Caldy (the surprise package of this National One season) stood firm and worked a position down the field where a speculative grubber was picked up by Ben Jones to score the opener on seven minutes.
The game ebbed and flowed for the next quarter of an hour with Caldy having a slight edge in the kicking battle and field position but Albion certainly having their chances. At the 25-minute mark, there was a pivotal moment that certainly changed the game. On full attack and seemingly in control, a speculative Albion crossfield kick deep in their opponent’s territory was gathered by opposition 10 Ezra Hinchcliffe who fired over a sublime 50/22 kick.
From the resultant lineout, the hosts mauled over to take the score to 14-0 and, in a devastating 18-minute patch, took complete control scoring four more tries to extend the lead to 40-0. With a squad ravaged by injury, unavailability and late cry offs, there wouldn’t be many sides willing to fight back but this Albion side have started to show some real steel of late…
After last week’s late, late winner against Blackheath, Albion began to mount a fantastic turnaround as they took control of the second period. Henry Clement found a huge hole off the back of a lineout to make a 50-metre break that was finished by the ‘Prince of Plymouth’ Alex Ducker. This was followed by another Caldy try before George Mills dotted down for Albion.
Sensing their change in fortune and, inspired by the return of talismanic Luke Chapman in the pack, Albion got a third thanks to some more sterling work from Ducker before the stage was set for a grandstand finish. With the result assured for Caldy, Albion went all out looking for the four try bonus.
The home side resorted to illegal means to stop them, and JJ Dickinson was dispatched to the sin bin. Tom Putt kicked the to the corner, the pack won the lineout and, joined by a few backs, drove Harry Wilkinson over to clinch a vital four try bonus point.
Following a first half to forget, the momentum swing to Albion, return of Luke Chapman and faultless kicking display from Tom Putt were all reasons to be cheerful and speaking after the game, an upbeat Damian Welch added “We struggled for intensity in the first half and Caldy were very clinical in capitalising on our errors in what was a mistake ridden half for us. The boys accepted that they needed to attack the second half with a different mindset, and they did that winning the second half 28-14 and picking up a bonus point in the process. Although the first half was disappointing the commitment to the cause in the second half was outstanding”
There is no doubt this is team starting to find its feet and, when they are on form, more than a match for any team at the National one tier. The challenge for their last eight games is to put it together consistently so they can start to look up the table. Indeed, Albion have games in hand over the teams around them and there have a chance next weekend against Chinnor to move three places up the league.
- Gates open at 12:00 pm
- Happy hour from 1:30 ‘till 2:30 pm with selected pints at just £3.50
- K/O 3:00 pm
- Dartmoor Brewery supporter challenge and the Plymouth Cheerleaders perform at half-time
- England v Ireland screening from 4:45
- Angel Flukes will serenade us into the night