Plymouth Albion 18 Jersey 17
Saturday 21st February 2015
Match report by Paddy Marsh
Images courtesy of Pinnacle Photo Agency
Plymouth Albion stretched their unbeaten home run to four matches with a hard earned and crucial victory over Jersey in windy conditions at Brickfields.
Jersey came into the game having won their last four games and with an unbeaten three from three record at Brickfields.
Albion’s victory saw them reduce the deficit between themselves and Moseley at the bottom of the Championship to three points.
Albion led for most of the match but fell behind in the 69th minute when visiting full back Aaron Penberthy scored Jersey’s third try.
An Albion side before Christmas probably would have slipped to another defeat but the 2015 outfit is a different animal.
Showing great character Albion came back at Jersey and victory was secured when skipper Declan Cusack put over a superb 47 metre penalty
Even then Albion had to survive a late Jersey onslaught but survive they did for their most important win of the season.
A relieved Albion head coach James Shanahan said, “We have had a lot of flu around this week and credit must go to the boys many of whom were dead on their feet at the end.
“I was really pleased with the victory that keeps us up there in the mix to avoid relegation.
“At the end we gambled when Jersey threw in to a line out close to our line and it came off.”
Albion made five changes, one of them positional, from the team that drew with London Scottish last weekend.
Top points scorer Lawrence Rayner returned to the side at full back with dual registered Jack Arnott moving to his more familiar position on the wing.
Tom Cowan-Dickie was selected at hooker while Neale Patrick was restored to the second row after missing the Scottish game through illness.
In the back row Eoghan Grace came in for Herbie Stupple who broke his leg in the Scottish game.
Albion had to make a late change on the bench when Iain Grieve dropped out through illness to be replaced by Ali Bone.
Albion playing into a strong wind made a great start and took the lead in the 6th minute.
A loose ball was seized upon by Albion flanker Sam Simmonds, who put Arnott away, and the winger sprinted in from half way for a try fly half Declan Cusack converted.
Jersey, whose game was built a strong rolling maul, levelled matters shortly afterwards when flanker Ryan Hodson finished off a catch and drive move with Penberthy adding the extras.
Jersey then went down to 14 when lock Nick Campbell was yellow carded for a high tackle on Albion scrum half Josh Davies, who had taken a quick tap penalty.
Albion took advantage of the extra man by adding a second try which was scored by No 8 Rhys Oakley who did well to scramble over from close range.
Cusack missed the conversion, which sent Albion into the interval leading 12-7.
With the strong wind at their backs the game was there for the winning for Albion who went two scores clear when Cusack kicked a penalty from near half way.
Jersey reduced the deficit when, from another catch and drive, powerful scrum half Samisoni Fisilau scored a try, which crucially Penberthy was unable to convert.
Having led for most of the match Albion went behind for the first time when former Cornish Pirate Penberthy crossed wide out for a try he was unable to convert.
Roared on by the home crowd Albion regained the lead when skipper Cusack kicked another long range penalty with his effort just dropping over the crossbar.
Albion then had to defend for long periods as Jersey went in search of victory and at the death a line out steal and an interception saw them over the finish line.
Next up for Albion is a difficult looking game away to league leaders Worcester Warriors in two weeks time.
Plymouth Albion: L Rayner, J Arnott, B Woods, T Howley-Berridge, J Watkins (J Henry 74), D Cusack capt, J Davies (R Cushion 62), T Fidler, T Cowan-Dickie (T Stagg 29), A Tiedemann, N Patrick (T Jubb 73), T Hicks, E Grace, S Simmonds, R Oakley replacements not used T Heard, L Chapman, A Bone
Tries: Arnott, Oakley
Pens: Cusack 2
Jersey: A Penberthy, M Foster, D Locke, L Robling, M McCrea, J Bentley, S Fisilau, I Lancuba (S Lockwood 55), M Garcia-Veiga (J Buckle 55), H Williams, N Campbell, P Phillips (D Markham 40), A Rae capt, R Hodson, M Noone replacements not used D Herriott, G Graham, R Glynn, D Bishop
Tries: Hodson, Fisilau, Penberthy
Yellow card: Campbell
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU)