Match report by Peter Redmond / Photography by David Cunningham
Plymouth Albion were out-muscled in a bruising encounter with Cambridge RFC which saw them suffer a 17-0 loss at Brickfields in National League One.
Having enjoyed a decent run of form coming into this home match Albion gave their all in a tight first half, with the visitors having scored two tries and one conversion by the interval.
The second half saw Albi struggle with a bad injury, lost lineouts and a dominated scrum which allowed Cambridge to score once more, shutting Albion out of the game as they dropped into the league’s bottom three.
Albion had got the game under way and for the first few minutes had some excellent pressure in the Cambridge half, resulting in a penalty for offside.
They then kicked to touch on the Cambridge 22, which forced them back on to their own five-metre line, but the visitors relieved the danger with a clearance kick back downfield as Albi pressed.
Some strong play again from Albion saw them creep forward, but a knock-on forced the first scrum of the day to Cambridge which Albion lost, and this changed momentum as the visitors started to show their strength on the set piece.
They kept coming forward and a high tackle from Albion No10 Connor Eastgate saw him pick up a yellow card and forced him to take 10 minutes in the sin bin.
With Albion a man down they began to lose ground and mistakes in the lineout particularly saw Cambridge control most of the power game.
In the 20th minute fast hands saw Cambridge across the pitch and some speed from Joe Green had him run the ball into the corner for their first try. The conversion by Cambridge fly-half Lawrence Rayner added the extra points, leaving them seven to the good.
Further pressure came in the last seconds of the first half and another strong run from Cambridge had their outside flanker Kwaku Asiedu run in for another try. This time Rayner failed to convert, and the whistle went for the break, the score 12 -0 in favour of the away side.
After an entertaining half-time sponsored by Jail Ale, the teams again entered the field. Heavy tackles played a major part in the first minutes and Albion scrum-half Henry Clement hit the floor with what looked like a serious leg injury.
The referee stopped the game for 10 minutes as the Albi player received treatment from the medical team and ended up being stretchered off to a standing applause of appreciation from the crowd.
When they game continued it was clear, even with some surging runs from the home team, that Cambridge were drawing Albion into a physical war.
Albion continued to push forward but mistakes kept creeping into their game with a string of lineout losses handing possession back to Cambridge, who merely sat back and absorbed the play.
Cambridge then had a try disallowed for a double movement on the Plymouth line, but it allowed them to gain more confidence and a resolute Albion could not stop another run by Asiedu who ran in his second score on 79 minutes. The conversion was again missed again by Rayner, but the damage had been done long before.
Albion will look to get back on track – and return to winning ways – when they travel to bottom side Tonbridge Juddians next weekend.
Cambridge: Tries: Green, Asiedu 2; Conversion: Rayner