Match report by Rob Kershaw & Chris Bentley / Photography by David Cunningham
Illness in the camp severely dampened the Plymouth Albion resurgence on Saturday as the Ocean City’s finest found themselves losing three key players on the morning of the game against Birmingham Moseley.
Changing 6 of the starting positions from last week’s superb victory over Rosslyn Park allowed the hosts to run up a 14-point lead in the first 7 minutes that proved too much to claw back.
Illnesses for Dan Collier, Jack Oulton and Jeremy To’a prevented them from travelling to the Midlands, prompting Seta Raumakita to move from the wing to openside flanker pushing Angus Hodges into the second row. Frankie Nowell and Morgan Stone also stepped up from the bench, joined by Isaak Welch. Charlie Groves, Bryn Edwards and Conrad Burne were called up as late replacements.
Despite tries from Ramaz Rukhadze and Jamie Salter, the early Birmingham Moseley salvo was what proved to be the difference. As they got off to a tremendous start, going over twice in quick succession, first through Sam McNulty, then Acquile Smith. Dan Lewis converted both to give Albion an early headache at Billesley Common.
Albion did manage to apply some pressure on the Moseley 22 shortly after, but from a driving maul, were caught offside. Moseley were soon in again, and McNulty nudged himself over for his second of the game, while Angus Hodges received a yellow for not retreating earlier in the phase. It was a tough start, but time remained for an illness-hit Plymouth to come back.
21 points and a man down, Albion began to settle and found a way back into the game as the pack took on their opponents. With no legal means to stop the Devonians, Harry Barnes was himself sent to the bin for 10 minutes after a series of offences, but as the Albion tried to create an opening, they failed to throw straight from a line-out. The visitors were looking promising at times but were stuttering in Moseley’s 22.
Undeterred, Albion battled manfully, and it was from a lineout on the Moseley line they got a reward. When an overcooked throw ended up in the hands of Ramaz Rukhadze, the Georgian Bull needed no second invitation, and he battered his way over the line to who pulled one back. Tom Putt put his name on the scoreboard with the conversion.
A less-than-ideal start to the second half saw Frankie Nowell become the second Albion player to see yellow after a high tackle on Sam Pointon. It did not take long for the hosts to pick up a second yellow of their own however, Harry Barnes went to the bin for a tip tackle.
At this stage, the game was evenly balanced and Albion but the hosts all but clinched it when Ross Mundy ran in to claim the bonus point try and leave the hosts 28-7 up. With the Albion bench getting an early run the visitors took the game on and, but for inaccuracies in the red zone, may have scored sooner. Eventually, the second try came.
Going with the tried and tested routine, the forwards worked an opportunity for the evergreen Jamie Salter to canter in, Putt converting, leaving the score at 28-14. Further waves of Ocean City attacks ensued, but a knock-on from a tip pass put an end to a promising looking move out wide.
As they chased what would be a deserved losing bonus point, hopes of an Albion fightback ended when right at the end, with Rob Knox scoring a fifth. It was a terrific effort from a squad that had been hit hard before they had even left Plymouth, and the result will be chalked down to a rough day at the office.
Fortunately, Albion now have two home games before the Christmas break with Leeds Tykes at the Brickfields next weekend followed by the ‘derby’ with Taunton Titans on the 17th.
After holding second places Cambridge to a draw this weekend, the Tykes will fancy their chances and the Albion faithful will need to be in full voice and ensure their proud home record stays intact.
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Sam Pointon, Acquile Smith, Elliott Creed, Isaac McNulty, Tuoyo Egodo, Dan Lewis, Matt Marsh, Joe Foreman, Sam McNulty, Jide Ajayi, Harry Barnes, Harry Butler, Simon Koroiyadi, Ben Morris, Ollie Steadman
Replacements: Ethan Priest, Josh Oliver, Chris Romano, Ross Bundy, Rob Knox
Ramaz Rukhadze, Tom Petty, Dan Pullinger, Jake Clemson, Angus Hodges, Torin Clarke, Seta Raumakita, Herbie Stupple, Morgan Stone, Tom Putt, Kyle Speare, Connor Eastgate, Isaak Welch, Frankie Nowell, Phil Jones
Replacements: Kye Beasley, Jamie Salter, Bryn Edwards, Charlie Groves, Conrad Burne