Author Archives: Lucy Ryland

Old Albanian 21 Plymouth Albion 24

Jordan Gott of Plymouth Albion is tackled by Andrew Christie of Old Albanians during the National Division 1 match between Old Albanians v Plymouth Albion at The Woollam Playing Fields, on April 21st 2018, St Albans, Hertfordshire, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

By Tim March at the Woollam Playing Fields

Plymouth Albion edged out relegation-threatened Old Albanian by three points following a perfect kicking display from full-back Matt Shepherd in National League One.

Albion and their depleted squad even called upon head coach Kieran Hallett to lace up to ensure victory in their last away match of the season.

Hallett was pleased overall with his team’s performance, and was glad that they were able to end their travels with a deserved win.

He said: “We showed great away-day character, we haven’t won away from home in a while and were put under pressure at times, but they are a good side.

“They are playing really well at the moment, so we knew they would throw it around a bit, but our line speed and our defensive effort in that second half was exceptional.

“We spoke about it at half-time after we still slipped up in a few tackles during the first half but we put that right in the second.

“We put some great dominant shots in which made it a lot easier. We got off the line and put them under pressure. Some of our transition attack could have been better but we did enough to earn the final penalty and that got us over the line.”

Albion fell behind early on, following a yellow card for Will Norton which gave the already motivated home side all the incentive they needed to go 14-0 up after 17 minutes.

Once both sides were back to full-strength, though, Albion put on the pressure and scored two tries themselves, from Jordan Gott and Jamie Salter, to make it 14-14.

The home side stole a try back, thanks to some flashy passing just before the break.

But Albion took complete control of the second half, starting with a maul that was put down by Eoghan Grace before a Shepherd penalty completed a perfect kicking game for him.

Albion will be looking to end the campaign on a high note in their two remaining fixtures, starting at Brickfields against the team that beat them in the opening game of the season, Blackheath.

Old Albanian: 15 Elliot Obatoyinbo, 14 Joseph Bridger, 13 Oliver Morris, 12 Reuben Bird, 11 Craig Dowsett, 10 Nichols Foster, 9 Morgan Thompson, 1 Charlie Hughes, 2 Tadgh McElroy, 3 Reed Taylor, 4 Ross Hamilton, 5 Joel Kpoku, 6 Sam Lunnon, 7 Andrew Christie, 8 Harry Elbrow

Replacements: 16 Arron White, 17 Oliver Walliker, 18 Alex Post, 19 Greg White, 20 Jack Daly

Plymouth Albion: 15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Jordan Gott, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Robbie Weeks, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Kieran Hallett, 9 Cam Setter, 1 Will Norton, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Lewis Pearson, 5 Dan Williams, 6 George Mills, 7 Sam Daly, 8 Herbie Stupple.

Replacements: 30 Luke Chapman, 26 Flynn Elworthy, 19 Eoghan Grace, 18 Ben Phillips

Tries

Old Albanian: Kpoku, Bridger and Dowsett

Albion: Gott, Salter and Grace

Conversions

Old Albanian: 3 Thompson

Albion: 3 Shepherd

Penalties

Albion: Shepherd

Yellow cards

Albion: Norton

Man of the match: Herbie Stupple

End of Season Supporters’ and Players’ Lunch and Prize Giving

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A message from the 200 Club and Albi Travel:

We are nearing the end of the season but the weather has played havoc with our home fixtures. We have had three matches postponed, something that I cannot remember in over twenty years.

However, the annual 200 Club and Albi Travel End of Season Supporters and Players Lunch and Prize Giving will go ahead as planned. This is a popular events in which players and supporters get together and reminisce on the highs (and lows) of the season.

The 200 Club Player of the Month for March and April awards and the AlbiTravel Club Mike Turner Most Promising Young Player award will be presented. The details are:

    Sunday 29 April 2018 in the Bidfood Marquee
    Bar opens at 1200
    Hog Roast Lunch at 1300 (vegetarian option available by prior request)
    Bar Closed at 1800

To book Contact Simon Franks by email – plymalbi200@gmail.com – or by post – 200 Club Treasurer, 15 Cremyll St, PLYMOUTH, PL1 3RB. BACS bank details on request.

Bookings must be made by the close of play Monday 23 April. No bookings will be taken on the day.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday 29 April.

Peter Harrison (200 Club) and Mike Newham (Albi Travel)

Salter: We’ll Fight For Every Point

Jamie Salter of Plymouth Albion scores a try during the National Division 1 match between Plymouth Albion v Coventry at the Brickfields Recreation Ground, on March 24th 2018, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Plymouth Albion tackle their final away game of the National League One season today (Saturday, April 21, KO 3pm) against second-from-bottom Old Albanian RFC.

The Hertfordshire side are fighting hard to avoid the drop to National League Two, achieving bonus point victories in their last two games.

Albion moved up to fourth in the table after last week’s game at Brickfields, when a late try from Matt Shepherd secured the bonus point victory over Birmingham Moseley, 28-24.

Hooker Jamie Salter says his team mates worked hard for the win: “We were definitely pleased to get the victory in the end. The boys worked hard right up until the 86th minute when we got that final try, but there are a few things we need to iron out.

“We started the game strongly, had a quiet spell and then finished it well. So I would say it was probably result over performance in terms of how happy we were.”

Head coach Kieran Hallett included six youngsters in the matchday squad for Moseley and Salter was impressed with their efforts: “The young boys are stepping up and showing up well in training. I think it is quite an easy squad to come in to as we are all friendly and they are adapting.”

Unlike Birmingham Moseley, this week’s opponents have plenty to play for, currently lying in National League One’s relegation zone in 15th place.

“They are fighting for their lives, so have got a lot to play for, but I think we have as well. The boys went up to Hull and were disappointed and it is our last away game of the season so it’s important to show people – and ourselves – that we are still trying  for every point that’s available. It is going to be tough as they are playing for league status but we also want to finish our season on a high.”

Salter was pleased to hear that fellow forward Sam Daly had agreed a one-year contract to keep him at the club next season: “It’s a great signing as he has worked really hard since he came in 18 months or so ago. He deserves his new contract as he is playing well. He works hard, gets his head down and is a good lad. He does a lot of the community coaching as well. He is a local boy and it is good to keep hold of those sort of players.”

The 33-year-old was also quick to praise fellow hooker Rupert Freestone who announced his departure from the club this week – for part-time Championship rugby and a full-time job in London: “Rupert is a good player and we have always battled well every time we have been here together. It has certainly improved my game this season knowing that I am fighting for that number two shirt and I think he’d say the same. But he has got an exciting time ahead moving to the big city.

“I wish him all the best for the future and hope he goes well in the Championship.”

While Salter himself has yet to put pen to paper, his intention is to remain at Brickfields for the forseeable future: “I certainly want to be here next year. At my age I would like to see out my career at Plymouth I have got no desire to go anywhere else.”

Plymouth Albion team to face Old Albanian RFC at The Woollams Playing Fields on Saturday, April 21 (KO 3pm).

 15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Jordan Gott, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Robbie Weeks, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Cam Setter, 1 Will Norton, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Lewis Pearson, 5 Dan Williams, 6 George Mills, 7 Sam Daly, 8 Herbie Stupple.

Replacements

16 Luke Chapman, 17 Jack Owlett, 18 Flynn Elworthy, 19 Eoghan Grace, 20 Ben Phillips.

Strength & Conditioning Internships

Plymouth Albion Coach, James Earp during the National Division 1 match between Plymouth Albion v Bishop's Stortford at the Brickfields Recreation Ground, on March 17th 2018, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Plymouth Albion are offering an exciting opportunity for two strength & conditioning internships for the 2018/19 season.

The successful candidate will support the lead S&C coach and help to develop the physical attributes required by professional athletes within the modern game. This would suit any individual that wants to further their knowledge in the many areas of S&C within professional sport such as energy system development, nutrition for performance, monitoring work load and supplementation, gym based activity, game day squad management and more.

The role is voluntary but kit, food on training days and accommodation for away games will be provided.

Ideally suited to an individual who is flexible, free on evenings and weekends and has a degree/recognised qualification within the field of strength & conditioning or working towards one. Experience within a rugby environment and group work desirable but not essential. Mid June start with exact date TBC. A reference will be given on completion of the full season.

Please send covering letter and CV to our lead S&C coach James Earp  info@plymouthalbion.com

Closing date for applications  May 31st 2018

Plymouth Albion On The Road To Old Albanian

Plymouth Albion Head Coach, Kieran Hallett during the National Division 1 match between Plymouth Albion v Birmingham Moseley at the Brickfields Recreation Ground, on April 14th 2018, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Plymouth Albion are on the road to St Albans this Saturday, April 21, for their final away game of the National League One season against Old Albanian RFC (KO 3pm).

When the two sides last met at Brickfields in December, Albion achieved a bonus point win in difficult conditions (26-8).

Albion are now fourth in National League One with two games in hand after last week’s dramatic bonus point victory over Birmingham Moseley, when a late converted try from full back Matt Shepherd edged the close-fought affair, 28-24.

Head coach Kieran Hallett was really pleased with his team’s performance: “I felt we definitely had enough in us to win it and we had enough opportunities to do so.

‘Defensively we were still a little bit off and missed a lot of tackles. Apart from maybe a ten minute spell either side of half time when our attack struggled a little bit, we were pretty good in attack. We were threatening and looked dangerous.

“I said after the game that we must employ more energy and pace on to the ball in our attack and when we did that we scored fairly easily. It is about trying to put that into an 80 minute performance not just on the odd occasion.

Hallett featured six youngsters in last week’s match day squad and was again impressed with their contribution.

“They are finding their feet and played really well in the Coventry game and held their own. The important thing for them is that are exposed to that level and learn from their mistakes.

“They are going to make mistakes and we have to bear with them but the good thing is that they are not repeating the same errors which tells me that they are learning. That is what these next few games are about – seeing where they are and if we can give them enough game time to allow them to make those mistakes and learn in a lower pressure environment so that when it comes to next year and the pressure is back on again they are used to that.”

Old Albanian have plenty to play for. Currently second from bottom in 15th place, the Hertfordshire side are fighting hard to avoid relegation and managed impressive bonus point victories in their last two games – away at sixth-placed Old Elthamians last week and home to Caldy the week before.

Hallett says: “They are playing some really good stuff at the moment and I’ve been impressed by the games I’ve watched. They have scored a lot of points. A bonus point win at Old Elthamians is not easy. For me, the pleasing thing is that it is a replica of the Hull game from two weeks ago. It’s a chance to show that we have learnt from that and we know what we are going to face this time with a team scrapping for relegation.

“It is a chance to prove we have learnt our mistakes from Hull and we go away and get the win.”

Plymouth Albion team to face Old Albanian RFC at The Woollams Playing Fields on Saturday, April 21 (KO 3pm).

 15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Jordan Gott, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Robbie Weeks, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Cam Setter, 1 Will Norton, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Lewis Pearson, 5 Dan Williams, 6 George Mills, 7 Sam Daly, 8 Herbie Stupple.

Replacements

16 Luke Chapman, 17 Jack Owlett, 18 Flynn Elworthy, 19 Eoghan Grace, 20 Ben Phillips

Popular Daly Puts Pen To Paper

Sam Daly of Plymouth Albion dives over the line for a try during the National Division 1 match between Plymouth Albion v Birmingham Moseley at the Brickfields Recreation Ground, on April 14th 2018, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

during the Plymouth Albion team photo call at the Brickfields Recreation Ground, on October 3rd 2017, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Plymouth Albion supporters will be pleased to hear that popular flanker Sam Daly has put pen to paper to commit himself to the National League One club next season.

Head coach Kieran Hallett is delighted to have retained the services of the 20-year-old: “He has been fantastic this year and really kicked on a level in his first proper year of men’s rugby.

“He broke through for a few games last year but it is the first time he has had to put a full senior season together.

“In all honesty, we have probably overplayed him but he has exceeded everyone’s expectations and his performances have been excellent.

“We are delighted that he is going to stay and we can help him further his development.”

Daly, from Torbay, originally joined the club last season on a short-term deal from National Three South West club Newton Abbot.

He says: “It is good to be back after a successful year. I hope to improve on it further and look forward to the season ahead.

Daly has featured regularly in the match day squad, enjoying significant game time, and was even named National League One player of the week by the National Clubs Association (NCA Rugby) following his performance against Caldy at Brickfields in February.

“I didn’t get much luck in the first part of the year but took my opportunity around Christmas and, hopefully, just improved and impressed from there. I hope that going forward into next season I can do the same.”

Alongside his back row responsibilities, Daly has a key off the field role in the club’s growing community department, taking rugby coaching and the sport’s core values out to city schools.

“I fell into that with Eoghan (Grace) asking me to do a bit of coaching and I really enjoyed being in that environment, getting back into the community and helping out.”

One of the younger members of the Albion squad, Daly is ambitious for the future, both for himself and his club: “I just want to keep on moving forward. Obviously, I would love to go up next year with Plymouth but I just want to keep moving up in the rugby world. Who knows what can happen?”

The forward is a favourite among fans and was chosen this year by supporters’ association the 200 Club as their sponsored player. He adds: “Big thanks to them for sponsoring me this season and for all their support.”

Daly joins Albion’s new arrival from Nottingham Rugby, wing Josh Skelcey, and recent signings prop Luke Chapman, full-back Jordan Gott and scrum half Cameron Setter, who have all agreed one-year contracts. Longer-term signings John Kelly, George Mills, Dan Pullinger, Seta Raumakita, Matthew Shepherd, Herbie Stupple and Dan Williams also feature on next season’s squad list.

Hallett is hoping there will be more positive news on the squad front in the near future: “There are only 3 or 4 guys left out of the current squad. We are talking to guys outside all the time and hopefully we can get a few of those over the line as well. We are pretty close to finalising where we want to be as a squad for next year.”

Rupert Freestone

Rupert Freestone of Plymouth Albion scores the opening try during the National Division 1 match between Plymouth Albion v Birmingham Moseley at the Brickfields Recreation Ground, on April 14th 2018, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

 

While Daly remains at Brickfields, 27-year-old Rupert Freestone has announced he is off to pastures new with a lucrative offer of part-time Championship rugby alongside a high-flying city career.

Hallett was quick to recognise the hooker’s contribution: “He has played a massive part in where this club is at the moment. He was part of the group that that went through some difficult times when they were relegated and he has done very well to put his personal stuff aside and get on with the job. He has been a really important player for me and is a friend as well as someone I coach.

“He will be missed but we wish him all the best going up to the Championship next year.”

Freestone says: I’ve been offered an opportunity to play Championship rugby for a London club, which is something I have had ambitions for since my first spell with Albion and then playing for Bristol. The opportunity comes with a full-time job in the city which, after graduating from my business degree in June, will be my first taste of a professional career away from rugby and personal training which is something I’m very excited about.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Albion, having grown up supporting the club it’s been an honour and I’m gutted that I won’t quite make 100 appearances! The fans have been unbelievable, as well as the coaching staff and the guys behind the scenes and I’m confident that the club will be back where they belong in the Championship in the not too distant future.

“I am incredibly grateful for the experience I have gained at Plymouth and the relationships I have made.”

Plymouth Albion v Blackheath

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Our next home game takes place at Brickfields on Saturday, April 28, when we take on Blackheath in National League One (KO 3pm).

Tickets from £15. Kids go FREE (under 16s free with a paying adult).

Buy your tickets online or at the gate on the day from 12 noon.

Plymouth Albion 28 Birmingham Moseley 24

Matt Shepherd of Plymouth Albion goes over to score the winning try during the National Division 1 match between Plymouth Albion v Birmingham Moseley at the Brickfields Recreation Ground, on April 14th 2018, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

In a strong return to form, Plymouth Albion were able to edge their way past Birmingham Moseley in a thrilling 28-24 National League One victory at Brickfields.

The game was a close fought affair for all 80 minutes, with a last gasp try from Matthew Shepherd putting Albion ahead with the last play of the game.

After scoring the winning points for his side, Shepherd was full of admiration for the visitors, after their spirited play took the game down to the wire. He said:

“Obviously for Birmingham it must be a bit gutting to lose on the last play of the game.

“They played outstanding and brought great tempo but, credit to the lads, we put a shift in. It wasn’t our best, but we managed to stick at it.”

Although the try looked secure from the moment Shepherd caught the ball, the full back described his nervousness as the game rested on his shoulders. He said:

“Yeah, I was nervous, as the play went on we were dropping balls left right and centre, I don’t know whether it was made of soap today, but it was good to catch the ball, good to score and get the bonus point win for the lads.”

Albion head coach, Kieran Hallett, was full of emotion after the game, and described watching his team in mixed light. He said:

“It kind of varies from the sublime to the incredibly frustrating.

“Every time we put a bit of energy and ball retention into our attack, we scored, the only problem is we did it four times in the game.

“I’m not sure if it’s the fact we’ve had to mix and match personnel a lot half way through the year, so we’re not at the point we should be.

“All in all, to go from five metres from our own line, struggling with a few minutes to go, to marching back up the other end to get a score, was very pleasing.”

Even though his players pulled off another home win, with five minutes to play in the game, and three points behind, twice the decision was made on field to kick for touch, rather than points. Hallett was quick to support his players decision making, saying:

“I’d always go for it, if you’ve got the chance go for a win, you’ve got to be aggressive and take it.

“A draw is okay but it’s nothing really to us, we’d much rather go for the corner, and if the guys have been mauling well and want to have a shot, then great, go for it, be aggressive.”

Hallett finally praised his younger players for another strong outing, he said:

“I think they’re making progress every week, Luke Flack played well again today, Lewis Pearson astounds me every week at the moment, he’s playing like a seasoned veteran, he’s very good and the more games we can get into them now, the more experienced they’ll be next year.”

The fair weather brought the crowds to the Brickfields, and it wasn’t just the spectators enjoying the warmer weather. With three weeks of rest drying out the Brickfields troublesome pitch, players were able to show off a faster paced game than the faithful had become accustomed to throughout the damp winter.

The snow of late March was a distant memory as muddy mauls were overlooked for the pace of the wings to find metres. Albion continued their aggressive seasonal stance, deciding to kick for touch over near guaranteed points within the first couple of minutes.

The resulting lineout came close to converting for the men in white, as skipper Herbie Stupple tumbled over, only to have the ball held up. Another penalty set a second lineout which found instant success. The ball was quickly tucked into the rear of a maul, with Rupert Freestone finishing easily in the corner. Two were added by Matthew Shepherd to pull the hosts ahead 7-0 after four minutes.

Back at the other end, it was Albion’s turn to surrender a penalty out front. Birmingham elected to kick and secure points against their top five hosts, and converted courtesy of Oliver Allsopp.

Now back within three points of Albion, Birmingham continued to seem nervous early on, whereas Albion seemed to have a good chemistry going between the younger stand ins and veterans.

From the 20-minute mark the pace of the game stepped up another gear, and tries were naturally quick to follow.

After losing the ball in the breakdown short of the line twice, youngster Devon Jewsbury was able to scoop up a loose ball near halfway and run in to score his first points at Brickfields.

Albion’s crowd were soon silenced though, as Birmingham came back strong and, in a flash, had scored two identical converted tries of their own, with Laurence Cowen and Sam Pointon outrunning a static Albion line to bring the visitors ahead 14-17 by halftime.

Scrappy play through the breakdown hampered both sides efforts through the early stages of the second half, but it was Birmingham who seemed the most dominant. Time and time again, they bewildered Albion defenders with quick pop passing, but their quickness was also their downfall, with knock-ons holding the score in check.

Albion were left to run the ball out from the shadow of their posts only to find themselves back at the same point minutes later.

Tired bodies meant injuries quickly racked up for both sides, most notably Albion’s second try scorer Jewsbury, who pulled up quickly after chasing a ball down the pitch.

Eventually, Birmingham found their way in for their last try when Sam Smith dodged his tackler to score.

Five minutes later, Albion pulled back into the game though, with Sam Daly adding a try of his own, beating out Birmingham with quick hands.

The tension around the park amplified further, as Albion poured on one last effort to charge up the field and win. Twice, penalties were awarded the hosts’ way, twice the ball was put into touch and twice the ball was lost through bad rucking.

A deliberate knock on saw Birmingham lose Rob Lewis, but Albion couldn’t seem to take the  advantage.

All seemed lost for the hosts until they were awarded a free kick on the last whistle of the game. Phase after phase was repelled at Birmingham’s line but Cam Setter finally beat the deadlock to get the ball out to a waiting Shepherd who squeezed his way into the corner, converting his own try to seal the win.

Shepherd now believes Albion must keep the momentum going to end a trying season. He said:

“We’ve got three more games at home, so we need to use this pitch to our advantage and get to finish as high as we can in the league and go on to next season with a bang.”

Plymouth Albion:

15 Matthew Shepherd, 14 Devon Jewsbury, 13 Luke Flack, 12 Dean Squire, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 William Norton, 2 Rupert Freestone, 3 Daniel Pullinger, 4 Lewis Pearson, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 George Mills, 7 Sam Daly, 8 Herbie Stupple (C)

Replacements:

17 Luke Chapman, 18 Benjamin Phillips, 26 Flynn Elworthy, 20 Robbie Weeks, 22 Matthew Crosscombe

Birmingham:

15 Michael Penn, 14 Samuel Pointon, 13 Samuel Smith, 12 Timothy Molenaar, 11 Alistar Haining, 10 Oliver Allsopp, 9 Saqmeul Brown, 1 Thomas Fidler, 2 Ryan Roach, 3 Jay Tyack, 4 Ciaran Moore, 5 Aaron Crofts, 6 Jacques Le Roux, 7 Laurence Cowen, 8 Christopher Brightwell

Replacements:

16 Adam Caves, 17 Joseph Wrafter, 21 Joshua Poole, 24 Robert Lewis, 20 Samuel Hollingsworth

Tries:

Albion: 4 (Freestone, Jewsbury, Daly, Shepherd)

Birmingham: 3 (Pointon, Cowen, Smith)

Penalties:

Albion: 0

Birmingham: 1 (Allsopp)

Conversions:

Albion: 4 (Shepherd)

Birmingham: 3 (Allsopp, Hollingsworth 2)

Cards:

Yellow- 1

Birmingham: Robert Lewis 79 mins.

Red-0

Attendance: 1563

Man of the Match: Herbie Stupple

Referee: Robert Bourke