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Battling Albion secure win over Okehampton

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Report by Rob Kershaw / Photography by David Cunningham

A brave Okehampton side were narrowly overcome by Albion as the Plymouth side took victory in their first pre-season fixture of 2022.

On a sunny, warm evening in Plymouth, Albion were looking to get pre-season up and running by getting a win under their belt.

Albion ended last season strong as they hauled themselves away from the drop threat themselves by ending the 21/22 term 11th, two points clear of the drop zone.

The opening friendly of the season was a chance to start as they meant to go on, while Okehampton themselves would be getting some key experience from the encounter.

It was also an opportunity to try out the six new signings Damian Welch has made over the summer to bolster the squad and get the club further up the table this campaign.

It was a battling start by Okehampton, who got to within 10 metres of the Albion line before earning a penalty on halfway, with the home side struggling to put phases together early doors.

The visitors capitalised on their positive early spell, taking the lead as Dan Fogerty sprinted across the line after picking their way through the Albion defence, and the conversion was struck comfortably between the posts.

The dominance continued from there, and they were soon in again as Leon Horn sprinted across the line after another fine move, but Fogerty could not slot between the sticks this time.

Albion were quickly back down the other end as Morgan Stone received a lovely offload and ran across to reduce deficit – Sam Brown converted to bring Albion to within five.

A squabble would ensue between the players after a questionable tackle, and fists appeared to be thrown as Dean Abrahams took a trip to the bin for 10 minutes.

It continued to be a clumsy encounter from there as both sides failed to take advantage of offensive lineouts, and the tempo was not helped by the long breaks between play as the sides worked their way back into match rhythm.

Albion were almost in again for their second of the game, but Mat Denton could not quite latch onto a big pass across, so the referee pulled play back for an earlier offence, with the hosts opting to go for the scrum, which came to nothing.

A remarkable turn of pace from Tom Davies opened a further attack for the Ocean City side, and Oscar White bundled across the line on the other side to even the scores. Brown could not quite convert this time.

Okehampton were soon back in front though, Brandon Horn taking a delayed pass from Tom White to sprint over the line, before Fogerty’s conversion crept through.

The number 10 was in once more after some excellent work down the right from Cole Pengelly, as Okehampton began to take full control of proceedings.

The second half started off slowly, with a couple of lengthy scrums taking place in front of the grandstand, but Albion wriggled free of the away side’s pressure, earning a line-out from 20 metres out.

The Plymouth side earned a penalty shortly after and kicked to the corner as they sought a way back into the game.

They duly took advantage as Pat Walton bundled over to give the hosts an ideal start to the second 40; Brown’s conversion went narrowly wide.

After a rather clumsy period of play with handling errors from both sides, the evening was set alight as Stone played a sublime kick in behind, and employed tremendous pace to latch onto it and bring Albion to within four, before Brown added two more to the tally with a well-placed kick.

Albion then looked to press home their momentum, and they forced their way across the line through Tom Petty from another attacking line-out, taking the lead before Brown’s conversion went just off target.

Davy McGregor kicked his way through moments later and handed off to Charlie Groves, but some solid defending denied him. Groves was not to be denied, and he reached over to for what looked an exceptional score, before he was ruled to have moved twice.

Plymouth established an element of control from there, keeping the ball comfortably in the Okehampton’s half as they wore their opponents out. However, one lapse of concentration set Pengelly away, but Albion recovered well to repel the threat.

At the other end, Stone had the beating of the Okehampton backs as they chased an upfield kick, but he could not quite get his hands to the ball first as the visitors survived.

Albion killed off the encounter with a late effort from Denton, and that was the last action of an exciting encounter at Brickfields.

Albion Line-up:

Ethan Pearce-Cowley, Tom Petty, James McFarlane, Pat Walton, Angus Hodges, Davy McGregor, Matt Denton, Bryn Edwards, Morgan Stone, Sam Brown, Tom Davies, Shaun Crawford, Oscar White, Conrad Burne, Charlie Groves

Subs: Mike Howell, Kyle Beasley, Giles Clarke, Olly Mulberry, Dan Collier, Jack Statton, Will Morton, Kieron Down

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