By Haden Tye
An excellent first-half performance helped Albion see off Birmingham Moseley 26-47 and extend their winning run to eight games.
Dan Williams, Matt Crosscombe, Robin Wedlake and Michael Stupple put Albion well ahead at the halfway stage, before a Dan Pullinger try, another Wedlake try and a penalty try fended off any hopes of a Moseley comeback.
It was a thoroughly entertaining game, which marked not only Albion’s eighth win in a row but also Moseley’s third home loss of the season as Albion stretched the distance between themselves in second and Moseley in fourth.
Kieran Hallett named four changes from his side that beat Hull Ionians at Brickfields, bringing in Sam Daly, Sam Nixon, Nile Dacres and Dan Williams for Dean Squire, Billy Keast, Todd Prisk and Cameron Setter. Hallett’s team featured some positional changes, too, with Matthew Shepherd moving from full back to scrum-half and Michael Stupple moving from number-8 to inside-centre. Harvey Skinner remained at fly-half for Albion.
Albion started the scoring early with Dan Williams scoring Albion’s opening try on the left wing after just four minutes. Matthew Shepherd was unable to convert, though.
Undeterred by the conversion miss, Albion turned on the style.
Wedlake received the ball on Albion’s 10 on the left and dummied his way around his man and cut inside. Albion’s winger stretched his legs and edged away from the pursuit of the Moseley’s players, who were hot on his tail, with his run travelling not only very far forward but also from left to right. Wedlake managed to offload the ball to Albion’s other winger Matt Crosscombe, just before he was brought down and Crosscombe did the rest to extend Albion’s lead. Shepherd converted, too.
Then, the provider turned scorer. Moseley hadn’t took notice of the warning sign issued moments earlier when Wedlake went on a dazzling run and let Albion’s winger receive the ball in space again and he cruised over the Moseley try-line to further Albion’s advantage after just ten minutes. Shepherd provided the extras again.
Things went from bad to worse for Moseley, as their fly-half James Williams was shown a yellow card and Albion scored a bonus-point try after just 21 minutes. Shepherd, who had moved from full back to scrum-half dummied his way past the Moseley defence and managed to offload to Stupple just as he was tackled and the Albion captain touched down underneath the posts.
The hosts brought a relentless half-hour of Albion pressure to an end as they threatened for the first time in the last ten minutes of the half, but had nothing to show for it as Albion went into the break with a hefty advantage.
Moseley fought much harder in the second-half and got their rewards after just nine minutes. Albion’s defence momentarily stopped and the hosts took advantage as Hafeafe Haisila played in Ed Sheldon who raced over Albion’s try-line. Williams converted.
Three minutes later, Albion postponed any chances of a Moseley come back as Samuel Holmes threw himself at the heart of the Moseley defence and offloaded to Dan Pullinger who put the ball down between the posts, to ease the task of converting for Shepherd, who showed his appreciation by doing exactly that.
Moseley weren’t lying down though. After a Moseley maul on the left, Chris Brightwell span away from the pack and scored Birmingham’s second try of the afternoon, which Williams converted.
Albion retaliated again as Wedlake scored his second try of the game.
Just after the hour mark, Shepherd dummied his way away from his man and ran for the posts. Shepherd was brought down but managed to pass to Nile Dacres, who raced forwards once more. Dacres was tackled, but Williams was there to support and played it wide to Wedlake, who completed his brace. Shepherd then converted the move he began.
Moseley replied again, but it was a mere consolation in terms of changing the final outcome. Nonetheless, a Moseley attack down the right switched towards the left and Williams offloaded to Alex Grove who put down under the posts, leaving Williams to convert.
Three minutes later and four minutes from time, Sheldon who scored Moseley’s first also scored their fourth and earned them a bonus-point after a darting run down the left. Williams couldn’t convert, though, and Moseley’s comeback was well and truly downed moments later.
Albion mauled forwards after a line-out and scored a penalty try. Jack Preece was given a yellow card and Shepherd converted to bring the game to an end with the score 26-47 to Albion.
Eight wins out of eight for Albion.
Not bad, eh?
First Team: 15 Dan Powell, 14 Matt Crosscombe, 13 Sam Daly, 12 Herbie Stupple (capt), 11 Robin Wedlake, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Matt Shepherd, 1 Sam Nixon, 2 Rupert Freestone, 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Nile Dacres, 5 Samuel Holmes, 6 Rupert Cooper, 7 George Mills, 8 Dan Williams.
Replacements: 16 Will Norton, 17 Jamie Salter, 18 Dan Collier 19 Todd Prisk, 20 Dean Squire.
T: Dan Williams 4, Matt Crosscombe 6, Robin Wedlake 10, 64, Michael Stupple 21, Dan Pullinger 52, penalty try 80.
C: Matthew Shepherd 6, 10, 21, 52, 64, 80.
First team: 15 Mike Penn, 14 Drew Cheshire, 13 Hafeafe Haisila, 12 Alex Grove, 11 Ed Sheldon, 10 James Williams, 9 David Brazier, 1 Tim Fidler, 2 Adam Caves, 3 James Elliot, 4 George Oram, 5 Aaron Crofts, 6 Tom Wilson, 7 Jack Preece, 8 Chris Brightwell.
Replacements: 16 James Burgoyne, 17 Jake Farnworth, 18 Will Crane, 19 Harry Hone, 20 Mark Harrison.
T: Ed Sheldon 49, 76, Chris Brightwell 54, Alex Grove 73,
C: James Williams 49, 54, 73.