Report by Rob Kershaw & Chris Bentley / Photography by David Cunningham
Plymouth Albion collected a 13-10 win over Rosslyn Park on Saturday afternoon with an almighty defensive display, gaining a deserved four points.
Playing with a substantial breeze to their tail, Albion took an early lead from A Tom Putt penalty. This was soon cancelled out by Monty Bradbury as the tone was set for a wet and windy day at the Brickfields. With such inclement weather, points were always going to be a premium and Putt narrowly missed soon after with a 60-metre effort that had the legs but drifted wide.
Into the wind, Rosslyn Park tried to execute a cute kicking strategy but two terrific charge downs by the perennially hard-working Jamie Salter put pay to that and hard carries became the order of the day.
With a real hunger for proceedings, Albion took the game by the scruff as they edged the close-quarter battle. Torin Clarke burst through the centre of a maul and carried into the Rosslyn Park five-metre area to light up the crowd. With no option but to interfere illegally, the visitor’s openside, Arthur Ellis, was sent to the bin.
A fair few efforts from resultant scrum penalties came to nothing, and so did Dan Collier’s sublime effort after a bullocking carry, as the boys continued to terrorise at the resolute Park defence.
With just under half an hour played, the game seemingly turned on its head. What appeared to be a few handbags off the ball saw the assistant referee consult the man in the middle before George Mills was issued a red card. Moments later, Ellis returned from the sin bin and things looked ominous for the home side.
Against the third-placed team in the league, many would have expected a capitulation, but Albion had not read the script and Tom Putt eased the pain of the dismissal by slotting through the posts to restore the Ocean City side’s advantage.
The visitors however sensed blood and, after a series of penalties, worked their way into the Albion red zone. It appeared that they had found the way in after some resolute defence as they actually had the ball over the line, only for the referee to pull them up for a forward pass, letting Albion off the hook.
With time ticking in the half and a precarious three-point lead, Albion rallied after a sublime piece of play involving the half-backs. Park kicked long and the ball held in the air, seemingly bamboozling Jack Oulton. The Cornishman however adjusted and plucked the ball one-handed before offloading to flyhalf Putt. With no worries for the elements, the Kingsbridge Express produced a pinpoint 50:22 kick to land Albion an attacking lineout.
The visitors were struggling to contain Albion who sensed blood and Gregor Gillanders would become the second Park player to see yellow. Not to be deterred, Albion drove again and, with the last play of the half, the Georgian Bull, Ramaz Rukhadze, powered over the line to score the first try of the day leaving Albion 13-3 ahead.
With the elements and a man advantage, Park started the second half extremely well, applying mountainous pressure onto Albion, and they made their dominance count when Ellis went over in the corner before Bradbury added the extras with a spectacular conversion.
Wave, after wave, after wave of Park pressure ensued, and it took herculean levels of guts, determination and effort to see off a resurgent visiting side, whose persistent attacks were difficult to keep at bay. Albion did their best to mount a skirmish up field but with ever-deteriorating weather, they struggled to exit their half.
With a full twenty minutes to play, there was a feeling of inevitability to the game, the higher-placed visitors, with an extra man and the elements in their favour would surely get the all-important score. Albion stood firm.
Ten minutes remained and a rally from the Ocean City’s finest saw Albion make it up the field and apply some pressure of their own. Just as it seemed they were going to see things out, the ball was coughed up and Park mounted a final attack. Phase after phase in the rain and mud Park pounded the Albion line. Ten phases became twenty and the home team stood resolute.
Huge tackles from Clemson and To’a were matched with great work to slow the ball down by Hodges and Pullinger. And then, when it felt like they could tackle no more, the warhorse Dan Collier locked on the ball and won a penalty turnover. Brickfields emerged in a collective cheer as a special result had been clinched.
After the game, there were presentations for player of the day Clemson, Player of the Month Oulton and two players who reached 50 club appearances, Davey McGregor and Connor Eastgate. The evening and the final word was reserved for club legend Herbie Stupple who achieved his 200th club cap.
With a visit to 9th placed Birmingham Moseley before home games against basement clubs Leeds and Taunton, whispers are getting louder about a revolution at the Brickfields. It may be that, for the first time in a long time, Albion are on the rise!
Albion v Leeds Tykes, Saturday 10th December – BOOK ONLINE NOW
Ramaz Rukhadze, Jamie Salter, Dan Pullinger, Jake Clemson, Dan Collier, Torin Clarke, George Mills, Herbie Stupple, Jack Oulton, Tom Putt, Kyle Speare, Connor Eastgate, Jeremy To’a, Seta Raumakita, Phil Jones
Replacements: Angus Hodges, Davy McGregor, Kye Beasley, Morgan Stone, Conrad Burne
Sam Garvey, Charlie Piper, Austin Hay, Jordan Martin, Gregor Gillanders, Harry Ledger, Arthur Ellis, Dan Laventure, Joe Luca Smith, Charlie Walker, Sam Aspland-Robinson, Matt Gordon, Benji Marfo, Monty Bradbury, Luke Baldwin
Replacements: Jared Saunders, Jake Buckingham, Oli Robinson, Seb Strang, Craig Holland