Plymouth Albion 16 Doncaster Knights 19
Saturday 25th April 2015
Match report by Paddy Marsh
Images courtesy of Pinnacle Photo Agency
After being relegated at Moseley the previous week, Plymouth Albion were hoping to finish off the season with a win in front of their home fans.
A healthy crowd of 1,486 were fully behind Albion who, after playing well in the first 40 minutes, went into the interval leading 11-5.
The warning signs were there for Albion who started the second half without the yellow carded flanker Ali Bone and seconds after the restart they were reduced to 13 when fellow flanker Eoghan Grace was despatched to the cooler.
While Albion were down to 13, Doncaster scored two converted tries which effectively won them the match.
Doncaster’s victory saw them complete the league double over Albion who finished their Championship campaign with just three victories.
This week it will be confirmed that a number of Albion players will be leaving the club and director of rugby Graham Dawe has the big task over the summer of putting together a squad to face the challenges of National 1 rugby next season.
How big and how strong that squad will be will depend on the playing budget the new Albion board can come up with.
Albion made five changes from the side beaten by Moseley last weekend.
Toby Howley-Berridge, returned to the centre while Mark Kohler reclaimed his place on the left wing.
Up front Dan Pullinger made his first start of the season at tight head prop with Andy Tiedemann dropping to the bench.
Tom Hicks returned to the second row while Ali Bone came into the back row replacing assistant coach Rhys Oakley who broke his leg at Moseley.
Doncaster included four ex Albion players in their starting line up.
Albion made a bright start and took the lead in the 9th minute.
After a series of forward drives, Albion skipper Declan Cusack broke a tackle and crossed in the corner for a try he was unable to convert.
Doncaster quickly got themselves level when after putting a penalty into the corner flanker Latu Makaafi got the touchdown.
The Championships top points scorer Doug Flockhart was unable to add the extras.
Albion getting the better of things territorially got themselves level when Cusack put over a penalty from in front of the posts after the Knights were penalised for not rolling away.
When the visitors were pulled up for wheeling a scrum near their posts Cusack stretched Albion’s lead to six points with another relatively easy penalty.
In first half stoppage time Albion were reduced to 14 when Bone was yellow carded for a professional foul but his side went into the interval leading 11-5.
Things got worse for Albion at the start of the second half when they went down to 13 after flanker Eoghan Grace was sent to the sin bin for killing the ball.
Doncaster took full advantage of the extra men and effectively won the game in the next ten minutes when they score 14 unanswered points.
Visiting centre Mat Clark went through a gap in the Albion defence for a try that Flockhart converted.
Former Albion man centre Bevon Armitage got Doncaster’s third try stretching out for the line after a powerful run with Flockhart again adding the extras.
Once restored to 15 Albion struggled to get good field position but the did reduce the deficit to three points late in the game when Howley-Berridge crossed wide out for a try Cusack was unable to convert.
It turned out to be too little too late as Doncaster held Albion’s late surge for a victory that saw then finish the season in ninth place.
Plymouth Albion: L Rayner (P Homan 47), J Arnott, T Howley-Berridge, M Koteczky, M Kohler (L Warner 66), D Cusack capt, C Setter (J Davies 72), T Harrison (T Fidler 60), J Penman, D Pullinger (T Heard 72), T Hicks, B Beukeboom, A Bone, E Grace, I Grieve replacements not T Jubb, E Stagg
Tries: Cusack, Howley-Berridge
Pens: Cusack 2
Yellow card: Bone, Grace
Doncaster Knights: P Jarvis, D Flockhart, M Clark (U Fosita 76), B Armitage, T Lewis, P Roberts, B Field (B Bravo 76), R List (J Bergmanas 76), B Hunter (Veikoso 63), C Quigley (W John 63), M Challinor, T Hotson, L Makaafi (P Eggleshaw 54), M Hills capt (W Foden 29)
Tries: Makaafi, Clark, Armitage
Cons: Flockhart 2
Yellow card: Stedman
Referee: Matthew O’Grady (RFU)