Report by Chris Bentley / Photography by Peter Sheridan
Charles Dickens once wrote ‘A Tale of two Cities’ and if he was at the Brickfields on Saturday he would not have needed to change much to describe the tale of two halves Plymouth Albion played!
A first half of miserly defence was backed up with an imperious last 30 as the home team took another bonus point win to drive them firmly into the top half of the table in what was a great advert for National League rugby.
In front of a season best 1385 fans, the scene was set for a big game, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Facing a resurgent Chinnor, buoyant after 4 consecutive wins, Albion boasted wins in their last 6 at fortress Brickfields, something was going to give.
As it was, the visitors took charge of the first half with their centre partnership of Grant Hughes and Jason Worral looking particularly threatening. They fully derived the first score of the game after a period of sustained pressure over the first 20 minutes. Albion’s response was lightning fast however.
A penalty offence from the restart allowed the team to set a lineout 5m out and Jamie Salter found himself at the back of a dominant maul as the pack skittled over, Tom Putt slotting the conversion for a fortunate 7-5 lead.
The visitors were soon back on the attack and only a last-ditch body check from Putt saved conceding a second. The fullback was dispatched to the sin bin and following a few close drives the visitors restored their lead. A tactical change from Ryan Lamb saw Royal Marine Commando Setareki Raumakita enter the fray and this seemed to alter the balance.
The Fijian announced his arrival almost instantly with a very legal yet scything tackle cutting his opposite man in two. This seemed to lift Albion who slowly started to regain the impetus after previously being content to defend manfully.
Half Time Albion 7 Chinnor 12
The second half saw the visitors back on the attack but Albion were slowly getting a toehold and landing a few blows of their own. Cornishmen Torin Clarke and Angus Hodges were certainly at the centre of the resurgence with some hard carries through the forwards.
It was 10 minutes into the half that the game span on its head. A break down the right wing saw Frankie Nowell stopped just short, his offload was gathered by the Chinnor fullback who kicked clumsily into the arms of Welsh Wizard Phil Jones. He in turn fed Hodges running at full tilt. The ball was moved along the line and the Bude Rocket Kyle Speare finished things off down the left wing. Putt converted and Albin took the lead 14-12
The crowd sensed the tempo change and roared the team back to receive the restart. Instantly Albion stepped up another gear and they broke out with cute interplay amongst the forwards. A great offload from the man Hodges saw George Mills released from 30 out and he sprinted in under the posts to take Albion out to a 21 -12 lead following another Putt conversion.
This seemed to knock the wind from Chinnor’s sails as Albin wrestled control of the game, The first half of toil seemingly knocking their confidence. With Albion now in fifth gear pushing the only thing needed was the final bonus point tray and it came in spectacular fashion with the last play of the game.
The Bude Rocket was released from a distance, and he sprinted in to score in what he is now referring to as ‘Spears corner’ for his second and Albion’s fourth of the day!! Putt slotted his final conversion, and the officials called a halt to the game. Final Score Albion 28 Chinnor 12
After the game, Ryan Lamb was full of praise for his opponents and charges saying “I thought Chinnor were one of the best attacking sides at the ground and they certainly made things tough especially in the first half. The boys thought for everything to keep them out and I’m proud of the effort across the board. I felt it was the also the best second-half performance we’ve put in this season. We need a big week’s recovery before the challenge of Leeds next week.”
Indeed with third from bottom Leeds before the longest trip of the season to rock bottom Hull, Albion have the chance to really push the top 4 through the month of February and playing like they did on Saturday, they just might!
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There’s no ice, there’s no injury and they’re out of excuses