Nat Saumi ended his final game as Director of Rugby with Albion on a high with a five-point victory over already relegated Doncaster Knights at Castle Park on Saturday afternoon in beautiful sunshine.
It was the perfect way for the Albion players to bid farewell to coach Saumi, who is returning to Fiji this summer after 10 loyal years at Brickfields.
Saumi made nine changes from last week’s game against unbeaten league leaders Newcastle, who lost their first game this season to Bristol.
Toby Howley-Berridge, Tom Bowen, Cushion, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Brett Beukeboom and Lloyd Fairbrother kept their places.
Louis Messer making his first start since returning from injury, Lewis Warner, Bevon Armitage, Paul Roberts, Tom Cowan-Dickie, Ien Ascroft-Leigh, Harrison Tovey, Wayne Sprangle and Herbie Stupple came into the side.
Sean-Michael Stephen and Alex Brown had to pull out of the trip to South Yorkshire, so Sam Hocking made his way onto the bench. Keni fisilau didn’t made the starting 22.
Albion included two ex-Doncaster players, Armitage and Howley-Berridge.
Albion had a dream start leading 19-0 after 31 minutes thanks to a penalty from Roberts, try’s a from Luke Cowan-Dickie and captain Ruairi Cushion.
It wasn’t long until Plymouth further extended their lead when captain Ruairi Cushion dived over from the ruck. This time Roberts wasn’t on target with his kicking but Plymouth had stormed into a 19-0 lead after just 30 minutes.
Doncaster, showing good spirit, came back and cut the gap to 19-15 with a try either side of the break and a 54th minute penalty. Albion will be disappointed to have let Doncaster, but in fairness Doncaster looked a different outfit.
Flockhart kicked a penalty to cut the deficit to just four points after Plymouth were penalised for not rolling away at the ruck.
It was all Doncaster and they nearly scored again following a wonderful 50 metre break by Canadian international Connor Braid, whose attempted offload didn’t go to hand when the Knights were well placed.
The players now have a well earned break as the season is over until mid September, please keep your eyes on our website for information about out pre-season fixtures.
Albion finished the season ninth in the league, which was the club’s second highest placing since the Championship was introduced four years ago.
From all players, coaches and support staff we would like to say a massive thank you for the support you have shown us week in week.
DONCASTER: 15 Michael Keating, 14 Doug Flockhart, 13 Dante Mama, 12 Tom Luke, 11 Tyson Lewis, 10 Connor Braid, 9 Chris Hallam, 1 Tom Davies, 2 Jack Bergmanas, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Matt Challinor (capt), 5 Dom Parsons, 6 Josefa Nayacavou, 7 William Hafu, 8 Chris Planchant. Reps: Andy Brown, Ben Hooper, Adam Kettle, Ben Sowrey, Will Simpson, Andy Boyde.
ALBION: 15 Louis Messer, 14 Lewis Warner, 13 Toby Howley-Berridge, 12 Bevon Armitage, 11 Tom Bowen, 10 Paul Roberts, 9 Ruairi Cushion (capt), 1 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 2 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 4 Brett Beukeboom, 5 Ien Ascroft-Leigh, 6 Harrison Tovey, 7 Wayne Sprangle, 8 Herbie Stupple. Reps: 16 Paul Rowley, 17 Declan Cusask, 18 David Morton, 19 James Phillips,19 Jamie Salter, 20 Sam Hocking,21 Sam Matavesi.
Tries: Penalty 8, L Cowan-Dickie 25, Cushion 30, Rowley 68
Conv: Roberts 8, 25, 68
Yellow: Beukeboom 42
REFEREE: Simon Harding (RFU)
On Sunday afternoon the players had their annual awards held at the club in the Kier:
Bevon Armitage was given the award from the players.
The Mike Turner Memorial Trophy for most promising young player was awarded to winger Tom Bowen.
Bowen, spending his first full season with t, scored eight league and cup tries in his first season with the Team. Tom has really developed as an individual and as a player this season
Previous winners of the Trophy include Mike Denbee, Lee Robinson, Luke Arscott, Alex Davies and George Porter, all made that step into the Premiership.
Stephen had previously been awarded The Herald’s player of the year trophy, which was voted on by readers of the paper.