Jersey 14 Plymouth Albion 2328/11/2014
Jersey's first-ever night match ended in a sorry defeat to a Plymouth Albion side who were able to celebrate their first win in 18 competitive matches, a run stretching back to early March.
The men from Devon had suffered two defeats to Jersey already
this season, but richly deserved the spoils after a display of
Fly-half Declan Cusack was at the heart of Plymouth's effort with some fine kicking both from hand and from the tee, and opened the scoring with an eight-minute penalty.
Albion's start was unpromising, with early signs of the lineout fallibility that was a key factor in the defeat to Jersey on the same ground three weeks earlier. But the visitors could take greater heart from the form of Declan Cusack - making his first start since recovering from long-term injury the fly-half was controlling territory for his side with a series of probing kicks.
Cusack also had an early chance to get his eye in from the kicking tee, courtesy of a Jersey player's failure to roll away, and stroked over a straightforward penalty.
Cusack launched an up-and-under virtually straight from the restart; Jersey full-back Ross Jones-Davies knocked on and the ball fell to Lewis Warner who surged forward 35 metres and was tackled close to the line. Albion support arrived rapidly, and Eoghan Grace plunged over for the try, which Cusack converted.
Shortly afterwards the lead was stretched to 13 points when Cusack fired a 40-metre penalty efforts between the posts following a Jersey scrum infringement.
It was all Albion, and even when Jersey had possession they struggled to clear their lines. Scrum-half Ryan Glynn twice had clearance kicks charged down, and on the second occasion - Ben Woods the Albion player to credit - Neale Patrick followed up to score.
The early lineout wobbles aside, Albion played 35 minutes of error-free rugby and it was a surprise when Cameron Setter put too much power into a kick ahead that bounced way beyond the dead-ball line. In contrast Jersey made several handling errors, were on the wrong end of the penalty count and were failing to secure reliable lineout ball.
The Islanders had their moments as the half came to a close, but a 10-man lineout move came to nothing after being overthrown, an Aaron Penberthy penalty clearance missed touch and another lineout was lost, and in fact Albion could have scored a third try just before the whistle, only to be held up just short.
The home side started with purpose after the resumption and made a number of substitutions in a bid to seize the initiative. There was some improvement: Penberthy had a kickable penalty but couldn't make it count but soon afterwards an attacking lineout led to a rolling maul and then the ball was worked to the right for Grant Pointer to score, with the conversion added.
Two more converted tries were needed by Jersey, but in fact Plymouth were rarely threatened and Albion stretched their lead to 16 points thanks to a Cusack penalty, the last contribution of a display that earned him the man-of-the-match award from sponsor Cazenove Capital Management.
At this stage Jersey's ambitions were in reality limited to a
losing bonus point. Nick Haining powered over from close range for
the hosts' second try, but Albion held firm in relative comfort for
a win that was loudly celebrated as the Jersey players and
supporters trudged away in dejection.
JERSEY: Ross Jones-Davies, Grant Pointer, David Bishop (capt), Tobias Hoskins#, Mark McCrea, Aaron Penberthy, Ryan Glynn; Ignacio Lancuba#, Gareth Harris#, Nick Selway#, Nick Campbell, Dave Markham#, Michael Noone, Joe Buckle#, Paula Kaho. Replacements: Sam Lockwood (60), Martin Garcia-Veiga (46), Danny Herriott (66), Alex Rae (49), Nick Haining (44), Nicky Griffiths, Lewis Robling (61).
ALBION: Jack Arnott#, Lewis Warner, Ben Woods, Marc Koteczky, Ben Foley, Declan Cusack, Cameron Setter; Luke Chapman#, Sam Matavesi (capt), Andy Tiedemann#, Tom Jubb, Neale Patrick#, Rob Langley, Eoghan Grace, Sam Simmonds#. Replacements: Tom Harrison (61), Dan Pullinger (61), Ali Bone (66), Rhys Oakley (HT), Jake Henry, Josh Davies, Lawrence Rayner (69)
Key: # player replaced; (45) minutes replacement used
REFEREE: Fergus Kirby (RFU)
Jersey: Tries: Pointer 54, Haining 73; Cons: Penberthy 54, 73
Albion: Tries: Grace 10, Patrick 21; Cons: Cusack 10, 21; Pens: Cusack 8, 16, 65
Report by Tom Innes