After a very promising start to the preseason, coach Damian Welch’s Albion side suffered their first loss to a very well drilled Exeter University side. With the support of Exeter Chiefs, they have certainly become a force to be reckoned with after a meteoric rise to the Southwest Premier division in the space of 10 seasons.
Fielding a much-changed side, Albion themselves were also bolstered by four Chiefs Academy players, including a familiar name to the Brickfields faithful; Nowell, only this time It wasn’t Jack but his younger brother Frankie! He was joined by Max Norey, Danny Southworth, Bailey Williams and Alex Sheridan. while Impressive Samoan Swiss Centre Jeremy To’a also took his bow. Skippering the side was the familiar face of George Mills after Herbie Stupple pulled up through injury on Thursday.
Before the game, a minute’s silence was impeccably observed by the 526 strong crowd in remembrance of the lives lost in Keyham, last week.
It was Exeter who started the strongest, with a quick try through forward power within 3 minutes of the start, the conversion followed making the score a very quick 7 – 0 to the visitors. Much to the chagrin of the crowd, it was Exeter who crossed again after 10 minutes after a well-worked passing move, sent them 14 – 0 to the good.
Albion responded with an attack which got to within a few metres of the line, but a mistake and a hack through saw the Exeter backline race away for try number three. The conversion was good, and Exeter were 21 – 0 ahead.
Messages from the coaching team were relayed on to the pitch, and in Albion’s next attack, a fluid move, with some great hands from To’a led to Alex Ducker racing through the midfield to touch down out wide. The conversion from the touchline was successful, with new recruit Phil Jones bisected the uprights making the scoreline 21-7.
Exeter then started putting on pressure with some incisive running deep into Albion’s half, a line-break later and the Uni side were through again, but Alex Ducker chased back to catch the Exeter winger with ease but aimed his tackle a little high. Referee Hamish Grant had no choice but to brandish a yellow sending Ducker to the sin bin for 10 minutes.
From the resulting penalty, Exeter forward pressure again breached the Albion defence to score out wide. The conversion was missed, and the halftime whistle went with Exeter going into the sheds 26 – 7 ahead.
Whilst the crowd were enjoying their Half Time pasty and pint, Welch must have been having a few frank words, as Albion came out for the second half with new energy and vigour. It didn’t take long for Phil Jones to get over the line after some great work by the forwards and a lovely, weighted pass out wide. Again, Jones metronomic foot added the conversion from out wide. With the score at 26-14, it was game on.
The Plymouth side continued to build phases and pile on the pressure, but a dropped ball gave Exeter the advantage – which they took, another try, this time under the sticks making the scoreline 33 – 14.
From the restart, Exeter took the ball and recycled well, they piled into the rucks and managed 17 phases of attack before Exeter fly-half Josh Barton opted for a simple drop goal to extend the lead. The scoreline is now 36 – 14 to the visitors.
Albion had one last hurrah, with hooker Max Norey crossing after a period of sustained pressure. The conversion was once again slotted by Jones. But the final word went to the Exeter University team who crossed after another handling error gave them the advantage. The conversion was missed. Final score at Brickfields 41 – 21.
There were certainly a lot of positives from the game but the team will need to learn a fair few lessons with the league opener against National One title contenders Rosslyn Park. They arrive at Brickfields on 4th September. Gates open at 12pm and kick-off is scheduled for 3pm. Tickets are available on the website, through the office or on the day.
We are expecting a big turnout, as once again, St Lukes Hospice join us for their Men’s Day Out event, so get your tickets early.