Plymouth Albion (A) 9.3.13


/*full match report now added below*/

Plymouth Albion 15 Jersey 19
by Tom Innes


Jersey registered a superb away win, their first in the league this season, to complete a double against Plymouth Albion. The home side battled back gamely, but have now lost nine straight league games after Jersey hung on for a deserved victory.

Both sides were relieved to learn of the score from Doncaster, with defeat for the Knights leaving Albion 12 points clear of danger, and Jersey five, with Moseley still in the mix ahead of their Sunday encounter with Cornish Pirates. [STOP PRESS - result - Pirates 17 Mose 14 so Mose have 26pts, seven clear of Knights. Leeds go 4th, they got BP in beating Lon Scots 26-3].

Jersey began poorly and conceded three early penalties, one of which was kicked. The Islanders battled back into the game with some excellent tackling, driving maul play and some of the running ability shown at London Scottish the week before.

Albion's Bevon Armitage was sin-binned after 25 minutes for cynically preventing quick ball when Jersey pressed forward for a try. A long injury break saw Jon Brennan forced from the field, but soon afterwards Jersey took the lead when Guy Thompson scored from a five-metre scrum. A second try looked likely before the break thanks to more powerful scrummaging, but Plymouth somehow survived without conceding the penalty try that looked inevitable.

The host side couldn't repel Jersey at the start of the second half however, captain Nicky Griffiths crossing twice in six minutes as his side looked increasingly threatening with ball in hand. The game may have seemed in the bag, with a four-try bonus point up for grabs, but the visitors played too open a game and this allowed Albion, who made several tactical changes, to storm back into contention with tries from Tom Cowan-Dickie and Tom Bowen.

Jersey had also lost Dave Felton following another lengthy injury break, but the commitment remained to the end, and after almost two hours of play - including stoppages - the whistle finally blew.

This was a committed all-round team effort from Jersey, the forwards had the measure of the opponents and the backs were resolute in defence and looked potent in attack. Back-row men Thompson and Charlie Walker-Blair were very prominent, while Max Stelling and Griffiths looked especially dangerous going forward.


Skipper Nicky Griffiths shows the passion of victory in the post-match huddle

SUNDAY INJURY UPDATE: Both Dave Felton and Jon Brennan were discharged from hospital and will travel back to Jersey with the squad. Both were admitted as a precautionary measure having been stretchered from the field. The pair will be assessed on their return to the Island, and the club are optimistic neither injury will be as serious as they first appeared.

Jersey, sponsored by Locate Jersey and
Forwards: Sean McCarthy, Dave Felton, Jon Brennan, Nathan Hannay, Dave Markham, Charlie Walker-Blair, Kingsley Lang, Guy Thompson. Half-backs: Nicky Griffiths (capt), Michael Le Bourgeois. Backs: Ed Dawson, Mark Foster, Max Stelling, Donovan Sanders, Barry Davies.
Replacements: James Gethings for Brennan (27 mins), Richard Barrington for McCarthy (47), Charlie Clare for Felton (54), Fred Silcock for Lang (66). Not used: Rob Anderson, Dave McCormack, Glenn Bryce.

Plymouth -albion -kit

Plymouth Albion: Jack Andrew, Jonathan Vickers, Lloyd Fairbrother, Brett Beukeboom, Harrison Tovey, Sean-Michael Stephen, Aaron Carpenter; Ruari Cushion (capt), Paul Roberts; Rhodri McAtee, Bevon Armitage (YC 25), Keni Fisilau, Toby Howley-Berridge, Declan Cusack. Replacements (all used): Paul Rowley, Tom Cowan-Dickie, David Morton, Sam Matavesi, Herbie Stupple, Lewis Warner, Tom Bowen.

Referee: Steve Lee
Attendance: 1,544
Half-time: 3-5

Plymouth Albion
Tries: Cowan-Dickie 58, Bowen 70
Conversion: Cusack 70
Penalty: Roberts 10

Tries: Thompson 29, Griffiths 41, 47
Conversions: Le Bourgeois 41, 47

Full match report, reproduced with kind permission of the Jersey Evening Post.

Plymouth Albion 15 Jersey 19

After 11 months without a league win away from home, and surviving a heart-stopping comeback by Plymouth Albion, it was no wonder Jersey's players celebrated with gusto.

Back in April last year, success at Coventry had sealed the National One title and promotion. Victory at Brickfields on Saturday may not have clinched anything, but it was an equally impressive achievement - the hugs and smiles that followed were evidence of that.

Satisfaction in the Island camp was based on the way the team had taken the lessons from the previous defeat at London Scottish, both positive and negative, and used them to great effect against Plymouth. Discipline was much-improved, defence was tenacious and the verve in attack was much in evidence - arguably too much in the closing stages.

The improvement in Jersey's discipline took around 10 minutes to kick in on a bright, dry day at Plymouth's spacious ground. By this stage the visitors had conceded three penalties, allowing two shots at goal for Paul Roberts, one of which he converted.

Albion were the dominant side for a brief period. Centres Bevon Armitage and Keni Fisilau both went close, then Canadian international number 8 Aaron Carpenter surged for the line only to be felled by a superb tackle from Charlie Walker-Blair, losing the ball as he tried to reach for the line. It wasn't to be Walker-Blair's only contribution on a day of tireless endeavour in the tackle and at the breakdown.

Gradually Jersey gained a foothold in the game, helped by winning some penalties and a secure lineout effort. A potent driving maul began to gain some big yards for the visiting pack, and when the ball went wide Kingsley Lang knocked on when it appeared certain he could otherwise have fed Max Stelling for a try.

Stelling, whose live-wire running could be increasingly influential if pitches continue to dry out after the winter rains, and Nicky Griffiths made further darts into Albion territory, and when Ed Dawson moved into scrum-half in search of quick ball, Albion's Bevon Armitage stepped in cynically to prevent him. A yellow card was inevitable, and some felt there were claims for a penalty try.

Three points were available for Jersey, but sensing an opportunity, the choice was for a scrum. The first scrum folded, leading to a 10-minute injury break as Jon Brennan was treated and eventually carried off.

The delay had at least allowed replacement tight-head James Gethings to get fully warmed up, and the Irishman played his part in a solid scrum that enabled Guy Thompson to pick up and crash over from close range.
Jersey went in search of another score to reflect the way the game had swung. Stelling and Thompson inspired a foray deep into enemy territory and when an Albion scrum was successfully wheeled, Jersey gained possession and a chance to force another try.

What followed was very reminiscent of Jersey's home game against Rotherham, where the visitors laid siege to the try-line, gained a series of penalties but no penalty try. As the clock ticked past the one-hour mark, Steve Lee (the same official) gave five penalties against Albion, but no penalty try, and eventually Thompson tried to repeat his earlier score, was penalised for holding on, and the half-time whistle blew.

The home side's handling was fallible throughout, and when possession was lost straight from the restart, Jersey's skipper Nicky Griffiths sliced straight through for a try. Thompson's ability to cut through opposition defenders was again in evidence, and a superb run got him close to the line and set up Griffiths just a few minutes later. Jersey were 16 points clear; surely victory was a given, perhaps even with a bonus point garnish?

The visiting side's momentum was again halted by a lengthy injury break, this time for David Felton, who was eventually replaced by Charlie Clare.
The prospect of the extra point seemed to blur Jersey priorities. With a dominant pack, the game needed to be closed down, not opened up. Thompson had again played magnificently, but decisions such as taking a quick throw and then attempting a back-hand flip pass to men outside him, with the try-line beckoning, were questionable.

Albion had more to gain from a Barbarians-style game than Jersey, and took advantage with counter-attacking tries from Tom Cowan-Dickie and Tom Bowen, the latter following a superb move stretching most of the length of the field.

It may have been after 5pm, but the injuries meant that the home side still had around 10 minutes to press for victory. They gave it a good crack too, but Jersey were not to be denied, the defence held firm and a hugely significant result had been nailed down.


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