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Brave Albion push league leaders to the brink

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Match report by Chris Bentley / Photography courtesy of Rams Rugby

It was a case of so close but so far for a spirited Albion against the runaway league leaders Rams on Saturday afternoon.

A man down for the last twenty-five minutes, the Ocean City’s finest did all they could to defend a narrow lead but, with the final play of the game, the Reading based hosts managed equal a club record for their best start to a season.

The day didn’t start in the finest fashion for Albion with the team coach breaking down just shy of Exeter and resulting in a slight delay to the kick-off. This setback didn’t daunt Albion who had won four of their last five games and certainly matched the endeavour of the unbeaten hosts.

The tactics employed by Albion certainly frustrated Rams who were not showing the form of a team that has comfortably conquered all-comers this term. It was however the home side who struck first with a silky attack finished in the corner.

Albion continued to stifle Rams and it was on the back of a huge defensive effort that the hosts coughed up the ball for the Leagues ‘player of the week’ Ramaz Rukhadze to finish his birthday week with a score, Tom Putt duly converting.

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Half-time and all square, there was beginning to be the air of the upset as Albion started to make the play and it was no surprise when Jack Oulton was on the end of a flowing move to dot down under the posts and hand Albion a deserved 14-7 lead with 28 minutes to play.

Sadly, that was as good as it got for Albion with Jake Clemson sin-binned after a last-ditch defensive effort. It was a tough assignment against the league leaders, away from home and with just a seven-point lead but missing the man, the home team kicked on and scored after a barrage on Albion’s line.

No sooner had he returned and bad went worse as Harry Wilkinson was sent off for a high tackle against former teammate Dan Swain. Rams needed no second invitation and a maul pushover from the resultant penalty gave them a narrow 19-12 lead.

That looked to be that, and Albion would have been satisfied denying the home side the bonus and taking a very deserved one for themselves. Sadly, rugby can be a tough old game and with the last play of the game, Rams scored after a stunning break to seal the game and secure the victory 26-12.

After a sterling effort coach Ryan Lamb was full of praise for his brave charges “The lads put in a hell of a shift, we just lost some big moments in the 2nd half. I felt the lads fought for every inch out there especially when we went down to 14 but we just come up short against a good side. I can’t lie and have to admit I’m gutted they scored the last play to take away the losing bonus point as I thought we deserved something from the game, but you do it always get what you deserve and we’ll go again

The league now has a week off before Albion face the challenge of London city slickers Rosslyn Park at the Brickfields. They are not quite the finished article just yet but there is a growing confidence that Albion are starting to become a force to be reckoned with in the National league and there is little doubt the game on the 26th will be very targetable for Plymouth.

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