Report by Rob Kershaw / Photography by David Howlett
A National League classic saw the resurgent Plymouth Albion take a thrilling 30-22 away win over Oxford-based outfit Chinnor on Saturday afternoon.
It was an important game in the context of the “mini-league,” as Ryan Lamb described it, below the two unbeaten sides, but both teams have shown the potential to compete with the big boys in the big games this term.
Chinnor, playing with a very strong wind at their back, got an early lead when they won a penalty in front of the posts, with Tom Price slotting through for the early score.
Kyle Speare and George Mills were focal points in a strong-spirited response at the other end as Albion had to battle hard to get up the field. Frustratingly, the Ocean City’s finest were turned over metres from the line as they looked for the opening try.
The Oxfordshire side responded in kind and were almost in at the other end, but Jason Worrall lost the ball forwards after some superb defending from Albion.
Albion got their breakthrough after a trademark driving maul from a line-out, when Jamie Salter dropped over the line, before Tom Putts converted, giving Plymouth a deserved lead.
The visitors did their best to continue that momentum, but after some more promising attacking phases, Chinnor held them up a few metres out, earning a penalty.
The hosts were right back up the other end, and Oli Curry was played in by Willie Ryan to put the Oxfordshire boys back ahead.
Nick Smith slotted through the posts, and Albion were in for another big fight to gain some points on the road.
That fight was displayed in abundance when Jack Oulton sprinted through a sea of bodies and reached over to give Damian Welch’s side the lead yet again.
Another response was found by Chinnor though, when Josh McNulty saw a gap from close range and lunged over to give Chinnor the lead on the stroke of half-time before Smith converted again. Behind 17-12 at the half, the coaches will have been somewhat optimistic knowing the wind would be in their favour at the resumption.
Albion had the worst possible start to the second half, however, succumbing to heavy Chinnor pressure, and Jason Worrall flew over to extend Plymouth’s arrears.
The conversion fell short, and Albion fell a man light when the industrious Oskar White picked up a heavy knock, putting a cruel end to his day.
Another riposte arrived when the ‘Georgian Bull’ Ramaz Rukhadze drove over the line before a penalty from Putt put the Devonians in front.
Intense, heavy pressure ensued from the host as they looked to salvage the game, but they were caught short as Albion took advantage of a loose pass, kicked in behind, and Phil Jones sprinted over to secure the result.
Albion remain sixth in the league, just two points behind Sale. Welch’s men next take to the pitch against rock-bottom Hull at Brickfields next Saturday where another result can see the team start to target a top-four spot.
Bradley Harewood, Charley Robinson, Josh McNulty, James Down, Oli Curry, Conor Brockschmidt, Alfie North, Willie Ryan, Jack Walsh, Tom Price, Dean Hammond, Will Feeney, Lewis Jones, Jason Worrall, Nick Smith
Replacements: Reece Marshall, Charlie Brabham, Max Heathman, Josh Hodgson, Greg Goodfellow
Ramaz Rukhadze, Jamie Salter, Dan Pullinger, Dan Collier, Jake Clemson, Angus Hodges, George Mills, Torin Clarke, Jack Oulton, Tom Putt, Frankie Nowell, Jeremy To’a, Oskar White, Kyle Speare, Phil Jones
Replacements: Tom Petty, Ethan Pearce-Cowley, Shek Sheriff, Herbie Stupple, Henry Clement
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