By Haden Tye
A formidable first-half and a last minute try from Matt Shepherd earned Albion a 26-7 bonus-point win against relegation-threatened Hull Ionians.
Albion came flying out of the blocks in the first-half and were 19-0 up at the halfway stage thanks to tries from Michael Stupple, Robin Wedlake and Setareki Raumakita. Despite a fight back in the second-half from Hull, Albion managed to remain resilient and pinch a bonus-point win at the very last.
It took Albion just seven minutes to take the lead against Hull after some persistent play on the visitors 5-metre-line. Albion switched the ball from the left to the right and Stupple managed to touch down for Albion’s first try just to the right of the posts. Shepherd converted with ease to extend Albion’s advantage.
Albion were back at it again just after the 20 minute mark and this time switched the ball from right to left to find the capable hands of Wedlake who made a powerful run down the wing which resulted in another Albion try. This time, Shepherd couldn’t convert from a difficult angle on the left though.
Just before the end of the half, Albion stretched their legs again. This time, Setareki Raumakita who had only been on the pitch for under a minute managed to leap over the Hull try-line and increase Albion’s authority. Shepherd converted again to put Albion 19-0 up going into the break.
It was a game of two halves though, as they say, with Hull Ionians fighting their way back into the match in the second-half. Albion could have extended their lead moments after the break, but they were halted at Hull’s 5-metre line.
The visitors managed to get themselves onto the scoresheet just before the hour mark, as they mauled over the try-line after a line-out on Albion’s 5. James Sanderson managed to get the try for Hull and Isaac Green scored the conversion.
That would be all that Hull could offer to the scoring though, despite some late pressure. After an excellent tackle from Wedlake, Hull regained possession and Wedlake tackled again but conceded a penalty. The Albion winger was then sin-binned for some choice words that the ref took a dislike to. With an extra man, Hull had the edge over Albion but Hallett’s men stood firm.
In the dying moments Albion revived their earlier firm.
A kick from deep was chased by Shepherd. The ball bounced awkwardly in front of the only Hull defender in Shepherd’s way and the Albion full-back managed to flick a boot at the ball and steer it around the final man in his way and then gather the ball on the wide right and jump over the try-line to secure the bonus-point for Albion. Shepherd then converted to take his haul for the afternoon to 11 points.
That’s seven wins on the trot for Albion, with six games to go.
Plymouth Albion RFC
First team: 15 Matthew Shepherd, 14 Matthew Crosscombe, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Daniel Powell, 11 Robin Wedlake, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 Billy Keast, 2 Rupert Freestone, 3 Daniel Pullinger, 4 Todd Prisk, 5 Samuel Holmes, 6 Rupert Cooper, 7 George Mills, 8 Michael Stupple.
Replacements: 16 Sam Nixon, 17 Jamie Salter, 18 Dan Collier, 19 Dan Williams, 20 Seta Raumakita.
T: Michael Stupple 7, Robin Wedlake 21, Setareki Raumikita 38, Matt Shepherd 87.
C: Matt Shepherd 7, 38, 87.
First team: 15 Andrew Humberstone, 14 Samuel Wilson, 13 Lewis Minkin, 12 John Allott, 11 Aquile Smith, 10 Callum Irvine, 9 Isaac Green, 1 David Laverick, 2 Alistair Thomson, 3 Richard Stout, 4 Joseph Makin, 5 Chris Eggleshaw, 6 Tom Cotterill, 7 James Sanderson, 8 Zakery Poole.
Replacements: 16 Alexander Forth, 17 Ricardo Cano, 18 Mark Wigham, 19 Ben Smith, 20 Ben Winterburn.
T: James Sanderson 55.
C: Isaac Green 55.