By Tim March at Paton Field, supported by Albi Travel
Plymouth Albion had their sixth win in a row at Caldy RFC on Saturday keeping them in second place in National League One and within four points of league leaders Coventry.
Caldy have made a few poor starts this season and, true to form, Albion took the lead after just six minutes.
The first half turned out to be tightly contested and a try and penalty straight after the break put the Merseyside team 17-12 ahead before Albion went up a gear to take the 17-34 win.
Caldy had barely touched the ball before Albion took the lead in the ninth minute. Hooker Rupert Freestone scored the first on his tries as a result of the line out, something which became a similar pattern.
Unusually for Albion star Dan Mugford, he missed his first opportunity to convert with a kick that tried to compensate for the wind but in the end had too much behind it.
Albion soon scored again with an almost identical try on the right side of the pitch as Freestone put down his second.
Mugford made no mistake this time meaning Albion were up 0-12 after 20 minutes.
Undeterred, Caldy started to gain more possession and were aggressive in their attack.
Albion winger Jack Arnott’s yellow card allowed the northerners to capitalise and score their first points.
Caldy’s number eight Josiah Dickinson found space after the scrum and there started his team’s domination of the next 20 minutes of play, making the score 7-12 going into the break.
Caldy started the second half more alert, winning a penalty and a try in the space of three minutes.
The try was the play of the game involving a back handed pass by Rhys Hayes from the right wing which gave Nicholas Royle all the space in the world to put his team 17-12 up in the 47th minute.
This was be the last time Caldy would score.
Matt Shepherd ended up on the end of a heavy tackle and, after the line out, Albion worked the ball closer and closer to the line resulting in captain Herbie Stupple going over in the 51st minute.
Another missed conversion from Mugford meant the score was tied at 17-17.
Will Norton was next on the score sheet and to putting Albion back in front.
Just after the hour, Mugford redeemed himself, deciding to kick a penalty that was closer to the half way than the try line. He put the ball comfortably between the posts giving his team a 10-point lead 17-27.
Finally, a well calculated phase of play through the centre led Stupple to score the last try of the game and, with Mugford’s final conversion, the game finished Caldy 17-34 Plymouth Albion.
Head coach Kieran Hallett said his team have dominated the last 20 minutes of most games this season as a result of their fitness levels.
He added: ‘We are fitter than most. Towards that last 20 minutes we are normally one or two (scores) up. It means we can relax a bit more’.
Full back Matt Shepherd saw Caldy’s early second half penalty and try as the ‘kick we needed’ to win the game.
Albion’s number 15 thought the final score flattered the Merseyside team: ‘I don’t think they deserved to score as many points. In the first half we kicked to faces not spaces and in the second half we wanted to get the ball to the grass on the green but, on refection, there is still learning to be done.’
The Albion away supporters, transported to the game via a seven hour ‘Albi Travel’ coach trip were, no doubt, impressed with their side’s win, making the long journey home much sweeter.
Albion will look to continue their winning ways against Old Elthamians on Saturday, October 21 (KO 3pm) at Brickfields. This game is a designated Albion schools’ day, in association with Babcock. A family ticket (admitting two adults and two children) is available for £20 before 2pm.
Caldy: 15 Mark Dixon, 14 Nicholas Royle, 13 Gavin Roberts, 12 Thomas Banks, 11 Ben Jones, 10 Rhys Hayes, 9 Chris Pilgrim, 1 John Parker, 2 John Whittaker, 3 Derek Salisbury, 4 Nicholas Gary, 5 Tom Sanders, 6 John Collister, 7 Nyle Davidson, 8 Josian Dickinson
Rep: 16 Michael Byrne (69th), 17 Stuart Cross (59th), 18 Crowne Harrison (40th), 20 Joseph Doyle (69th), 21 Ransford Otutaha (54th)
Plymouth Albion: 15 Matt Shepherd, 19 Matt Crosscombe, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Harvey Skinner, 11 Jack Arnott, 10 Dan Mugford, 9 Joe Snow, 1 Will Norton, 28 Rupert Freestone, 30 Jack Owlett,5 Sean Lonsdale, 18 Sam Holmes, 6 Eoghan Grace, 7 George Mills, 24 Herbie Stupple
Rep: 3 Dan Pullinger (68th), 26 James Salter (72nd), 20 Cameron Setter (72nd), 22 Setareki Ramumakita (68th), 29 John Kelly (41st)
Try’s: 8 Dickson and 14 Royal
Conversions: 13 Roberts (2)
Penalties: 13 Roberts
Yellow: 8 Josiah Dickinson
Try’s: 28 Freestone (2), 24 Stupple (2), 1 Norton
Conversions: Mugford (3)
Yellows: 11 Jack Arnott, 29 John Kelly
Man of the Match: Joe Snow
Referee: Alexander Thomas