Jersey 18 Plymouth Albion 23
Greene King IPA Championship
words by Tom Innes, pics by David Goodenough
Plymouth fronted up to a tough challenge away from home; pacy
attacking and determined defence meant it was the visitors who
claimed the spoils at St Peter.
Head Coach James Shanahan was delighted to see his team confound
the expectations of most pundits.
"It was outstanding to come here and win a game no-one had given
us a chance in," he said. "It was all based on defence - there were
periods when Jersey threw everything at us and I was really happy
how we stood up to that."
For all Shanahan's praise for his side's defence, Albion also
looked to attack where possible, and within three minutes of the
off Toby Howley-Berridge had crashed over after good approach work
by Ien Ascroft-Leigh.
Jersey were level when an outstanding Nicky Griffiths break saw
the scrum half cross for a try, Niall O'Connor adding a
straightforward conversion and two excellent penalties from
distance to put his side ahead. Dan Mugford's try reduced the
arrears to a single point, but Plymouth's fly-half was forced from
the field just before the break after a heavy knock.
The visitors moved ahead for the first time two minutes after the
resumption thanks to Declan Cusack's penalty, but Jersey sensed an
opportunity when skipper Rhys Oakley was sin-binned for pulling
down a lineout. Deprived of any opportunities to assert themselves
in the scrum during the first half, Jersey's tried to claim a
pushover or penalty try, but failed to control the ball.
Having successfully cleared their lines, 14-man Albion mounted
another successful rearguard minutes later as Jersey launched a
multi-phased siege of the visitors' line, and as Oakley returned
his team moved further ahead thanks to the boot of Cusack.
Replacement Eoghan Grace combined well with Chris Elder for
Plymouth's third try on the hour, and although Jersey were the
dominant attacking force in the closing stages, Albion's defence
held firm apart from one try for Tom Brown from a Jersey driving
maul (pictured below).
Director of Rugby Ben Harvey felt his Jersey side were nervous
and had fallen well short of expectations.
"We didn't play the sort of game we wanted to - we failed to stick
to our systems and the performance today didn't reflect what we are
capable of and the way that we've trained," he said. "Plymouth
defended well and raised their game when they needed to."
Jersey now have the tough prospect of back-to-back away matches
against Rotherham and London Scottish, but Harvey was optimistic
his side will bounce back.
"This league is all over the place in terms of consistency and
almost any side can beat any other," he said. "We got a great
result away at Nottingham and we know that on our day we are
capable of beating both the teams we're visiting in the next
Jersey: Pointer, Copsey, Locke, McCrea, Dawson,
O'Connor (Penberthy 65), Griffiths (Dudley 61); McCarthy (Fidler
70), Taione (Felton 41), Young (Selway 58), Campbell (Markham 65),
Rae (capt), Maidment (Voss 70), Buckle, Brown.
Plymouth Albion: Elder, Bowen, Woods (Stevens
67), Howley-Berridge, Arnott, Mugford (Cusack 36), Cushion (Rowley
71); Rogers (Shields 71), Crumpton (Evans 71), Morton,
Ascroft-Leigh, Williams (Tovey 55), Stephen, Langley (Grace 56),
Referee: Martin Fox
Man-of-the-Match chosen by match-day sponsor Brooks
Macdonald: Tom Brown (Jersey)
Tries: Griffiths 6, Brown 74
Conversion: O'Connor 6
Penalties: O'Connor 11, 14
Tries: Howley-Berridge 3, Mugford 25, Elder 62
Conversion: Mugford 3
Penalties: Cusack 41, 54
18 May 2023
DoR pays tribute to leaving players after title-winning season