Rotherham Titans 30 Plymouth Albion 25
Saturday 20th September 2014
Match report by Paddy Marsh
Images courtesy of Pinnacle Photo Agency
Although Plymouth Albion were beaten by high flying Rotherham Titans, they left Clifton Lane with their heads held high as well as the losing bonus point.
After disappointing defeats to Doncaster Knights and Nottingham, Albion produced a much better performance and very nearly came away with what would have been a superb win.
A couple of defensive lapses and some harsh decisions from the officials helped Rotherham over the finishing line.
In the second half Albion were reduced to 13 by Premiership referee Tim Wigglesworth and it was the second card shown to replacement prop Tom Fidler that undid Albion.
Fidler was carded after Titans lock Perry Parker jumped onto his back at a line out before falling to the ground like an Italian footballer.
Albion head coach James Shanahan said, “That was a much better performance and I have told the boys that if we play like that we will a number of games this season.
“Saying that I was disappointed with the officials, particularly the assistant referees who wanted to get involved.
“A number of players had good games today. Lawrence Rayner is growing into the role, Marc Koteczky looked solid at full back, Sam Simmonds had a good debut and Ben Woods was outstanding.
“If we had had the losing bonus point taken away I would have been very disappointed.”
Plymouth Albion made six changes to the side that disappointingly lost to Nottingham, handing league debuts to Australian fullback Marc Koteczky and dual registered flanker Sam Simmonds.
There were first league starts of the season for wing Jake Henry, scrum half Josh Davies, prop Tom Cowan-Dickie and lock Rhys Oakley.
Stagg started the game against a club he played for two seasons ago.
Rotherham made flying start and took the lead in the 3rd minute when right wing Michael Keating, running a good angle, cut through the Albion defence for a try by the uprights.
Fly half James McKinney added the conversion before Albion rocked the home crowd with a well worked try that was created by Simmonds and scored by Davies.
The scrum half had time to run behind the uprights to make the conversion a formality for fly half Lawrence Rayner.
Rayner then put Albion ahead for the first time in the game with a well struck penalty from near half way after Titans were caught offside.
Rayner extended Albion’s lead with another penalty before the visitors gave away a fairly soft try.
A missed tackle on half way allowed Davies a clear run into the corner and McKinney put his side ahead for a second time with an excellent conversion.
Albion playing some very controlled rugby regained the advantage when Rayner made it a hat trick of penalties after Rotherham were once again pulled up for offside.
Rayner kept up his 100% kicking record with a 30 metre penalty before Rotherham went down to 14 in first half stoppage time when Davies was yellow carded for taking out a man at the kick off.
As the previous week against Nottingham, Albion failed to score any points with the extra man, but shortly after Titans were restored to the full fifteen Rayner put his side two scores clear with another penalty.
Albion were then reduced to 14 when Stagg was yellow carded and things got worse for the visitors when Fidler followed him to the sin bin.
Following each card McKinney slotted the resultant penalties to reduce Albion’s advantage to just two points.
The visitors despite being two men down got three more points on the board when Rayner kicked his sixth penalty of the match.
After Davies got his try in the corner McKinney put Rotherham ahead for the third time in the match with another excellent touchline conversion.
McKinney then kicked his third penalty before Albion through everything at Rotherham as they searched for a match winning score.
McKinney’s miss deep in stoppage time gave Albion the consolation of the losing bonus point to take back to Devon.
Rotherham Titans: L Hayes, M Keating, C Harris (J Gill 29), J Davies, C Wilson, J McKinney, D White (A Davies 40), R Hislop (T Williams 71), T Cruse (T Barrett 78), M Tampin (L Thiede 52), P Parker (B Morris 64), T Holmes capt, A Reider, J Preece, W Ryan (A Birch 49)
Tries: Keating, Davies 2
Cons: McKinney 3
Pens: McKinney 3
Yellow card: Davies
Plymouth Albion: M Koteczky, J Henry, T Howley-Berridge, B Woods, L Warner, L Rayner, J Davies (J Williams 72), T Cowan-Dickie (T Fidler 43), T Stagg, A Tiedemann (T Heard 72), T Jubb, R Oakley (B Beukeboom 57), R Langley (E Grace 52), S Simmonds, I Grieve capt replacement not used C Foley
Pens: Rayner 6
Yellow card: Stagg, Fidler