Bedford Blues 18 Plymouth Albion 33
Saturday 8th March 2014
Over the years Goldington Road, the home of the Bedford Blues, hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for Plymouth Albion but they will have good memories of their trip there in 2014.
Albion’s 3 try to 2, victory which was their first at Goldington Road since 2009, was thoroughly deserved and moved them up to seventh in the Championship table.
High praise must go to the under pressure Albion pack who turned in one of their best performances of the season, particularly in the set scrum.
Once again Albion’s defence was excellent and was severely tested in the second half when the visitors were reduced to 13 after referee Greg McDonald dished out two yellow cards.
The one concern for Albion was the amount of penalties they conceded in the second half, which would have been crucial against a better side than Bedford.
Albion head coach James Shanahan reflecting on the performance said, “In the first half we controlled the game well but allowed Bedford a couple of easy scores.
“Our discipline let us down after half time when we gave away 8 penalties and got 2 yellow cards.
“I was pleased with the way the forwards played particularly as they have been getting a lot of flak in recent weeks. We were good in the scrum and defended the Bedford drive game well.
“Everyone worked really hard today but we need to back up this win next weekend if we are going to finish in the top 6.”
Albion made six changes from the side that beat Nottingham.
Full back Dan Mugford picked up a calf injury against Nottingham and his place at the back goes went to Chris Elder.
Lewis Warner replaced Ben Woods on the right wing while Toby Howley-Berridge reclaimed his place in the centre after recovering from injury.
Paul Rowley came in at scrum half while in the front row Gareth Evans started at hooker replacing Jared Saunders who was recalled by Saracens.
In the second row Harrison Tovey replaced Brett Beukeboom, another who picked up a knock against Nottingham.
Shanahan named himself on the bench for the match against one of his former clubs.
Former Albion man James Pritchard returned from injury to skipper the Bedford side.
Pritchard opened the scoring in the 2nd minute when he kicked a 35 metre penalty after Albion were penalised at a ruck.
From the restart Bedford were pulled up for not rolling away and Albion fly half Declan Cusack levelled matters with a fine kick from near halfway.
Mid way through the first half Cusack put Albion in front with a simple penalty from in front of the posts after Bedford strayed offside.
Bedford had a chance to level matters when after being awarded a penalty the chance was lost when prop Phil Boulton was penalised for illegal use of the knee.
Albion right wing Tom Bowen had a great chance to score the opening try but after going for the interception he dropped the ball with the try line open.
From the resultant scrum Albion took the ball against the head and after good work from No 8 Sean- Michael Stephen, flanker Eoghan Grace went in under the posts for his second try of the season.
Cusack converted and then added a penalty to stretch Albion’s lead to 10 points.
Bedford fly half Jake Sharp then sliced through the visitors defence and a long pass put Pritchard over in the corner for a try he converted with an effort that went over via the left upright.
In first half stoppage time Pritchard missed a 30 metre penalty which sent Albion into the interval leading 16-10.
Early in the second half Albion prop Tom Harrison went offside at a ruck in front of his posts and Pritchard reduced the visitors lead to 3 points with the resultant penalty.
Albion replied with a second try that was set up by an interception by Elder and finished off by skipper Rhys Oakley.
Cusack converted to restore Albion’s advantage back up to 10 points.
Albion then went down to 14 when flanker Rob Langley was yellow carded and then went down to 13 when Howley-Berridge followed him into the sin bin.
Although put under severe pressure by Bedford, Albion didn’t concede any points while being two men down mainly due to some superb defence.
That turned out to be the turning point in the match and shortly after coming on as a replacement Shanahan widened Albion’s lead with a well taken 35 metre drop goal.
In stoppage time Albion added a third try when a well timed pass from Grace put Bowen over for his 12th league try of the season which Cusack again converted.
There was still time for Bedford to get a late consolation try that was claimed by replacement Tomas Gilardon-Paz.
Plymouth Albion: C Elder, T Bowen, T Howley-Berridge, H Stevens (J Shanahan 76), L Warner (L Messer 69), D Cusack, P Rowley (R Bolt 80), T Harrison (M Rice 61), G Evans (D McGregor 80), L Fairbrother (D Morton 64), H Tovey (I Ascroft- Leigh 69), R Oakley capt, R Langley, E Grace, S-M Stephen
Tries: Grace, Oakley, Bowen
Cons: Cusack 3
Pens: Cusack 3
Yellow cards: Langley, Howley-Berridge
Bedford Blues: J Pritchard capt, P Tapley, M le Bourgeois, M Atkinson (T Fenner 55), O Dodge, J Sharp (T J Harris 78), D Veenendaal (H Peck 78), D Fearn (N Steenkamp 56), C Claire, P Boulton (T Gilardon-Paz 40), P Tupai (H Wells 56), M Howard, J Vandermolen, D Fox (G Gillanders 61), N Fenton-Wells
Tries: Pritchard, Gilardon-Paz
Pens: Pritchard 2
Referee Greg McDonald (RFU)