Coventry 29 Plymouth Albion 14

Dan Pullinger of Plymouth Albion, Rupert Freestone of Plymouth Albion and Will Norton of Plymouth Albion prepare for the scrum during the National Division 1 match between Coventry v Plymouth Albion at the Butts Park Arena, on November 25th 2017, Coventry, West Midlands, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Tim March at Butts Park Arena

Kieran Hallett admitted his team were comfortably put away by league leaders Coventry as Albion were unable to assert themselves against their top flight opponents.

Coventry came out strong and, apart from two phases in the first half, dominated that top table clash, resulting in Albion failing to score in the second half.

Hallett said after the game: “I don’t think we can have too many complaints to be honest. At half time we were in it and in the ascendency.

“They went to a level that, quite frankly, we’re not at yet. We’re not a million miles away, but I don’t think we can have too many arguments about today.”

On what went wrong for his team, Hallett said: “I think individual skill accuracy let us down. When we were under pressure and trying to get the score we were making knock-ons and not getting it quite right.

“When they went down the field and scored twice, that was a 14-point swing that was hard to overcome mentally and put us under pressure.”

Next week Plymouth Albion welcome Hull Ionians to Brickfields and Hallett thinks his team will be ready to move on: “I think it’ll be pretty easy to bounce back from the loss. The boys will be disappointed, but we’ve still got our home record intact and that’s our next goal.

“We’ll use this as a learning experience, like we always do, and move on to Hull.”

Full back Matt Shepherd, who came off the bench, said: “The loss is a bitter pill to swallow really, the boys ground out really well to score just before half time and bring it back to 15-14.

‘We were a bit gutted not to get any points in the second half, but credit to Coventry who kept the ball and put us under pressure.”

Despite the defeat, Shepherd believes Albion can bounce back: “We’ve got the group of boys to do it, I think we’ve just got to keep ticking over to get that win next week.”

With Albion having barely touched the ball, Coventry’s Trimble opened the scoring in space after just three minutes. Number 10 William Maisey’s left footed conversion attempt from the left wing went across the posts.

Albion looked jittery in the opening plays and were soon under attack when a ball kicked into the Albion end zone looked likely to cause some embarrassment before Dan Pullinger pulled off an impressive tackle.

Coventry had all the game in the first 20 minutes, continuously piling plenty of pressure on Kieran Hallett’s side.

17 minutes in, Maisey converted a penalty with ease from the middle of the pitch to make the score 8-0.

After 20 minutes, Albion finally got into Coventry’s half, which quickly resulted into a try for Rupert Freestone who did well from a scrum and roll on the right hand side of the pitch, putting Plymouth on the score board.

Dan Mugford converted, with the ball skimming the inside post, to bring the score to 8-7.

Coventry replied immediately with a Tom Kessel try, thanks to brilliant pressure from the home side. The conversion, slightly more infield, was successfully kicked by Maisey, 15-7.

After 30 minutes Albion started to show their quality, keeping the ball in Coventry’s 22. The Devon side took their chance from another line out as Ed Holmes put the ball past the line on the 39th minute. Another Mugford conversion made it 15-14 going into the break.

Coventry came out in the second half just as strong as they started the first.

A scrum and roll 43 minutes in on the right side of the pitch for Coventry led to a try from Coventry number two Scott Tolmie, before Maisey added the extras.

Coventry continued their form by scoring another try on 52 minutes, with expert play allowing Tolmie to score his second. After the successful conversion the score was at 29-14.

Both teams tried a set of substitutes to freshen things up but they resulted in very little.

As the game went on, Coventry’s defensive line stuck to their jobs and great performances from the home side’s forwards meant Albion were not able to create any further chances.

The game finished Coventry 29-14 Plymouth Albion. Despite missing players, the midlands side had too much quality for Albion and were able to rely on an incredibly deep squad full of high level experience.

Hull Ionians are next up for Albion as they try to return winning ways. While there are no easy fixtures in National League One, the team will be expecting less of a challenge than they faced in Coventry.

Coventry:

15 James Stokes, 14 Rob Knox, 13 Anthony Matoto , 12 Anthony Fenner§, 11 Max Trimble, 10 Will Maisey, 9 Tom Kessell, 1 Jimmy Litchfield, 2 Scott Tolmie, 3 Phil Boulton (c), 4 Nile Dacres, 5 George Oram, 6 Latu Makaafi, 7 Jack Preece, 8 Luke Narraway.

Replacements:

16 Phil Nilsen 60th, 17 Nathaniel Tichard-Jones 40th, 18 Brett Daynes 63rd, 19 Tom Emery 72nd, 20 Ben Palmer.

Plymouth Albion:

15 Jack Arnott, 14 Matt Crosscombe, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Harvey Skinner, 11 Setareki Raumakita, 10 Dan Mugford, 9 Joe Snow, 1 Will Norton, 2 Rupert Freestone, 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 John Kelly, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 Ed Holmes, 7 George Mills, 8 Eoghan Grace ©

Replacements:

16 Luke Chapman 60th, 17 Jamie Salter 75th, 18 Dan Collier 70th, 19 Cameron Setter 60th, 20 Mathew Shepherd 60th

Tries:

Coventry: Trimble 3rd, Kessell 23rd and Tolmie 43rd, 52nd

Albion: Freestone 18th and Homes 40th Conversations:

Coventry: Maisey 3

Albion: Mugford 2

Penalties:

Coventry: Maisey 23rd

Man Of The Match: Anthony Matoto

Attendance: 2065

Referee: Matt Turvey