by Nick Burt at the Northern Echo Arena
Plymouth Albion made their longest trip of the season to play Darlington Mowden Park and contributed to a ten try thriller of a match which they narrowly lost 33-31.
In a pulsating encounter, where the lead changed hands on a number of occasions, Albion will be very disappointed to lose with the last kick of the game.
Having led by 31 points to 26 going into the last 2 minutes, Albion must have felt that they had done enough to secure the bonus point victory. Sadly it was not to be and when Harvey Skinner was yellow carded for an infringement close to the Albion try line, it enabled Darlington to drive over for the equalising score and kick the conversion.
Reflecting on the match after the final whistle, head coach Kieran Hallett said: “It is the second game of the season where we have lost with the last kick of the game but, to be honest, we can’t have too many arguments with it. They were better than us in many aspects of the game today. We gave them two soft tries in the first half. Our attack was good at times but not consistent enough.”
Albion started the match strongly but conceded an early try against the run of play. From the restart, some strong defensive work by Seta Raumakita forced a turnover in midfield to release Harvey Skinner to score. Shortly afterwards, Dan Mugford cut through the defensive line to score a delightful try which he converted. This was quickly followed by another score from Rupert Freestone after a driving maul. With 8 minutes remaining in the first half, an unforced error and a missed tackle allowed Darlington to score again to make it 17-14 to Albion at half time.
With the wind at their backs, Albion looked set to increase their lead but a number of wrong options and unforced errors allowed Darlington to regain the lead with two tries in quick succession, both scored by the number eight Ollie Hodgson. At this stage, Albion seemed to lose direction and, whilst not panicking, often made life difficult for themselves. A fine kick to the corner by Dan Mugford set up a good attacking position. Albion stole the lineout ball and Eoghan Grace crashed over for a try which Mugford converted. This was followed by another excellent try from close range by replacement John Kelly. At this stage Albion led 31-26 and were well on their way to victory, only to have it snatched away in the final minute.
On reflection Kieran Hallett said, ”After last week’s game we questioned our energy and workrate. That was certainly there in abundance, but our one-on-one tackling and some of our decision making wasn’t there today.”
Albion’s next match is away next Saturday, November 4, to Rosslyn Park.
Plymouth Albion: M Shepherd, M Crosscombe, S Raumakita, H Skinner, J Arnott, D Mugford, J Snow, W Norton, R Freestone (J Salter), D Pullinger (J Owlett), D Swain (J Kelly), S Lonsdale, E Holmes, S Daly (D Squire), E Grace, Replacements not used: C Setter
Tries: H Skinner, D Mugford, R Freestone, E Grace, J Kelly
Con: Mugford x3
Yellow card: H Skinner
Darlington Mowden Park
G Connon, S McCartney, B Frankland, G Law(C Mackenzie), A Radwan, B Connon, A Barron, C Wood (J Poole), I Darkintis (R Appleby), Talite Vaioleti, Dan Preston-Routledge, T Vaioleti, D Fisher(S Uzokwe), M Heaton, O Hodgson
Replacements not used: J Pool, J Blakeney-Edwards
Tries: G Connon, S McCartney, O Hodgson x2, T Vaioleti
Con: B Connon x4
Referee: N Chivers