By Tobi Koiki
Albion overcame a difficult challenge from Coventry, winning 33-24 to move up to second position in National League One.
A brace of tries from Tom Cowan-Dickie, and tries from Dan Pullinger who was making his 50th appearance for Albion and Harvey Skinner, who was making his first for Albion meant that Kieran Hallett’s men capitalised on Ampthill’s loss to runaway leaders Hartbury and leapfrogged the former in the table.
Albion began the day on the same amount of points as Ampthill, with the knowledge that a victory over 7th placed Coventry would more than likely mean they would overtake Ampthill. An Albion win would make it five on the spin for Hallett’s men, who himself returned to the starting side after a lengthy lay off with a hamstring injury.
Albion started the game hesitantly with the conditions playing a big part in their poor handling early on. An early penalty for Coventry for offside in the ruck meant they could convert with just six minutes gone to make it 3-0 Coventry.
Albion responded well through their forwards pushing Coventry deep into their half. A series of penalties for Albion lead to the first try of the game, Thomas Cowan-Dickie driving his forward pack over the line for the try which was duly converted by Plymouth winger Matt Shepherd to make the score 7-3 Albion with just 14 minutes gone. The try came with Albion taking full advantage of their man advantage as Coventry’s second row Joshua Peters was sin binned for pulling down the Albion maul.
Hallett’s men took advantage of their extra man in the just after 20 minutes, when Cowan-Dickie mauled his side over the line once again with the conversion missed by Shepherd, leaving the score as 12-3.
After Peters returned from the sin bin for Coventry, they went on the front foot and had a great move through their backs. Centre Heath Stevens passed to Winger Thomas Howe to dive over the line for a try, which was converted by Coventry 10 Anthony Fenner to make the score 12-10.
Albion’s pressure near the end of the first-half lead to another penalty and yellow card for Coventry forward Fred Tuilagi. The penalty was converted by Shepherd to make the score 15-10 at half time.
Coventry started the half in the ascendancy with some good passing moves from their backs. The pressure was converted into a try on the 46th minute when Coventry flanker Brett Daynes drove over the white wash for a converted try to make the score 15-17 Coventry.
Albion earned a penalty just seconds later for collapsing the scrum. It was converted by Shepherd to give Albi a slender one point lead, with the score at 18-17.
Albion applied the pressure soon after and a quick pick and drive from front row Dan Pullinger on his 50th appearance for the club led to another Albion try. Pullinger scored under the post after a missed tackle around the ruck. The try was converted by Shepherd to make the score 25-17.
A penalty try was awarded to Coventry just three minutes later when Albion hooker Cowan-Dickie was judged to have pulled down a dangerous maul. Cowan-Dickie was sin binned and the try was converted by Fenner, leaving the score at 25-24.
With just minutes left on the clock a tense finish to the match was concluded with a turnover in the line out by the Albion forwards, and Albion scored a break away try in the corner from substitute Harvey Skinner, on his first appearance for Albion. The conversion was missed however, by Shepherd.
With the game fading out another penalty for collapsing the scrum was awarded to Albion and was converted by Shepherd to make the final score 33-24.
The win for Albion takes Hallett’s side to second in the league.
Next season, Hallett’s eyes will be on one spot higher.
Plymouth Albion RFC
First team: 15 Matt Shepherd,14 Matt Crosscombe,13 Harry Strong, 12 Daniel Powell, 11 Robin Wedlake, 10 Keiran Hallett, 21 Cameron Setter, 1 Billy Keast, 2 Thomas Cowan- Dickie, 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Nile Dacres, 5 Samuel Homles, 6 Rupert Cooper, 7 George Mills, 8 Herbie Stupple.
Replacements: 16 Will Norton, 17 Rupert Freestone, 18 Sam Daly, 19 Harvey Skinner, 20 Dean Squire.
Tries: Cowan-Dickie (14, 21) Pullinger (56) Skinner (83)
Conv: Shepherd (15, 58)
Pen: Shepherd (37,50,87)
First team: 15 Clifford Hodgson,14 Thomas Howe, 13 Heath Stevens, 12 Thomas Wheatcroft, 11 Corey Hircock, 10 Anthony Fenner, 9 Peter White, 1 Andrew Brown 22 Scott Tolmie 3 James Litchfield, 4 Joshua Peters, 5 Thomas Poole, 6 Brett Daynes, 7 Oliver Povoas, 8 Fredrick Tuilagi.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Price, 17 Philp Boulton, 18 Darrell Dyer, 19 William Maisey, 20 Robert Knox.
Tries: Howe (27) Daynes (46) Penalty Try (61)
Conversion: Fenner (29, 47, 62)
Penalties: Fenner (6)
Man of the match: Nile Dacres