Well over 500 days since they last took the field in a competitive game, Plymouth Albion started the post lockdown era in a highly competitive game with local rivals Redruth.
Coaches Damian Welch and Ryan Lamb will be heartened with the win but know there is a fair bit of work to be done to ensure the team are competing at the top end of National One this term.
The game started with Albion charging out of the blocks and it was only a last-ditch tackle on the impressive John Dawe that stopped a try before there was even a minute on the clock. Albion kept on with the pressure and a series of close drives were only repelled by illegal means. Sadly, the impetus was lost as the Cornishmen showed plenty of steel to repel the Albion eight.
With a host of new signings making their debuts, Albion was always in the ascendancy but struggled to get a flow in their gameplan. It made for frustrating viewing at times as the intent was clear to see but the accuracy was understandably just off!
The first try of the game was scored by Welshman Phil Jones, showing all the class that saw him capped by his national 7’s team, when executing a subtle show and go to dot down under the posts.
The attacking intent from the team throughout the game bore testament to the work put in by attack coach Ryan Lamb, but facing a tough opposition, who has won 12 consecutive fixtures in the league below before the curtailment of league rugby, the game was quite the arm wrestle.
Indeed, the next points were to come from a strong build-up by Redruth who well deserved to be level at the half.
Into the second half and Albion quickly restored their lead with a trademark bulldozing run from Herbie Stupple, after some telling drives by new signing Shek Sherrif and another ‘old boy’ Dan Pullinger. Undeterred, Redruth stuck to their task manfully and produced some very strong defensive sets from Albion with John Dawe and Jamie Salter prominent.
As the game wore on Redruth found a chink in the Plymouth defence and produced a startling 40-metre run-in, as an unlikely upset looked possible. Albion had other ideas, however, as the team wrestled control into the last twenty minutes with Alex Ducker and another new signing, scrum-half Henry Clement, both dotted down to secure a tidy buffer and keep bragging rights north of the Tamar.
With only a brief turnaround before the next preseason game against Okehampton, the coaching staff will be pleased to see a fully fit squad after Jake Clemson recovered from what looked like a nasty knock as they look to build more confidence into the squad.