Match report by Chris Bentley
Rosslyn Park 28 – Albion 28
Plymouth Albion scored a highly impressive bonus point draw to draw with third placed Rosslyn Park in a game that was certainly high in drama. After securing their place in National Division One and playing a team whose own title aspirations had diminished in the previous few weeks many may have expected a case of ‘After the lord mayors show’. However, both teams put on a spectacle of attacking rugby where Albion can feel a level of regret at missing the full haul of league points.
But for a slack period either side of the half and for a more efficient lineout performance, there is little doubt Albion could be celebrating a rare victory on the road following an impressive run of late. In the end it took a spectacular try, scored by Henry Clemson, started by Alex Ducker and converted by Tom Putt, to secure the four try bonus and draw the game.
Over the last couple of months, there is no doubt Albion have improved immeasurably, not just in their patterns of play but in the less quantifiable categories of heart and guts. After some abject efforts at the beginning of the term, the Ocean Cities’ finest have shown those qualities in abundance to wrestle control of their destiny, make the Brickfields a fortress again and take valuable bonus points on the road.
Starting just the second game in nine with a full complement of twenty men, Albion will bemoan the loss of Jake Clemson in the week to a foot injury. Without the Cornish giant, the bulk of the lineout responsibility fell to George Mills and, manfully as he and the pack worked, the lineout didn’t quite function. With far too many lost throws in attacking positions, the vaunted Albion Maul only had a couple of chances in the hosts red zone and this was the telling factor in the final score.
Nevertheless, travelling to Rosslyn Park on the day they bade farewell to club their Stalwart and captain Hugo Ellis, there is no denying the effort to wrestle back control of the game after falling 28-7 down early in the second half. Indeed, to a man, Albion were fantastic on Saturday afternoon and the travelling faithful (who certainly rivalled the home support for noise) will be regretting the fact this was the end of the league campaign!
After conceding a try to the Park rolling Maul, Albion replied when quick thinking saw Geoge Mills drive over folling a quickly taken penalty. After that both teams huffed and puffed but most of the play was within the two 22 metre areas. Both sides certainly had threats but continuity was difficult to maintain as defences stood firm.
It was last ditch defence that set up Parks next score. With Albion on full attack, a scoring pass for Albion was picked off by Rosslyn’s wing Ben Howard who sprinted in from sixty metres to take a narrow lead. Few would have argued about that being a fair reflection but a couple of penalties from the restart gifted position to Park who scored a try from tighthead prop Austin Hay from close range to lead 21-7 at half time.
Almost immediately after coming back out the score went out to 28-7 and many would have expected capitulation and a parade for the home side. This new Albion team hadn’t read the script however and set about taking on their vaunted opponents on all fronts. Showing a huge amount of discipline and endeavour, a trademark Jamie Salter try (his eight in three games) got the team a toehold and then set up a period of Albion Dominance.
The enemy of Albion was the clock as the home side did a great job repelling the consistent efforts of Albion. With five minutes left in the game the dyke finally broke as Henry Clement darted over to set up a grandstand finish. Receiving the restart deep in his own half, the ‘Prince of Plymouth’ Alex Ducker set off on a mazy run across field. He spotted a weak seam, straightened up and set the afterburners. He found Frankie Nowell who delivered a perfectly timed pass to Clement who ran in from fourth metres out.
With moments left on the clock iceman Tom Putt stood up and slotted the conversion to tie the game and send the visiting support into raptures. Sadly, that was all the scoring for the day but certainly a moral victory for the visitors who were dead and buried just after the half on the scoreboard.
With the season now done and dusted, there is a lot of work for Albion to do to ensure the tension in the later months is around the top of the table and not the bottom. The bulk of the squad is already signed up, the young coaching section is starting to hit their staps and there is certainly a new air of optimism. As the club embarks on a build up to its 150th anniversary (in 2026) hopes are that the potential of the club may, at last, begin to be realised!
And finally – Herbie Stupple’s Testimonial is just a few weeks away (21st May) there will be a chance for the Albion faithful to cheer on a true club legend and see the team off before league action returns in September – GET YOUR TICKETS HERE