Loughborough Students 6 vs Plymouth Albion 34
Credit Kevin Westlake.
Albion were back on the road following their win against Sale FC at Brickfields last week, with a difficult looking trip to Loughborough Students. The students have consistently scored highly at home and away with varied results, but Albion made the trip up the M42 with a desire to stem the flow.
In miserable conditions with a windchill of -2c, Albion produced their best away display of the season, controlling the ball for much of the game and preventing Loughborough from utilising their impressive back line.
Albion started against a very strong wind, and were soon camped in their own half, with the students knocking on the door, but indiscipline at the breakdown allowed Albion to try to clear the ball into touch. The kick made 10m despite the best efforts of Fraser Honey. From the resulting line out, Albion managed their first visit to the Loughborough 22, only to knock the ball on in contact.
The match was a fairly open affair up until the 16th minute, where Albion managed to get the ball into touch near to the Loughborough line, after multiple phases and some great work at the breakdown by George Mills and Lewis Pearson, Flanker John Kelly crashed over out wide to give Albion the lead. Honey superbly slotted the conversion from an acute angle, against the wind to make the score 0-7.
The half continued as had much of match, with Loughborough trying to kick deep and then pressurise Albion, this eventually paid off on the 36th minute when Albion infringed at the ruck, and up stepped Full Back Charlie Reed to make the score 3-7.
That kick was one of the last meaningful actions of the first half, and referee Jonathan Cook brought the first half to an end, much to the delight of Albion’s travelling band of hardy supporters.
The Second Half started, and Albion had use of a strong wind, immediately they took advantage with a deft kick through from Fly Half Honey, whose management of the game throughout was superb. From the line out, Albion grabbed possession and rumbled forward, Jamie Salter dotting down at the back of the ruck for Albion’s 2nd try. Honey couldn’t add the extras.
On 62 minutes, following some more superb tactical kicking, Albion piled on the pressure, the referee adjudged that Loughborough had pulled down the maul, and made his way to the posts to add another 7 to Albion’s tally.
Honey further extended the lead on 67 minutes following more infringement from a beleaguered Loughborough pack.
Birthday boy Dan Collier then added further to the score line on 72 minutes, crossing at the back of a ruck to make his day even more special. The conversion was missed, but by then the damage was done with Albion leading 6-34.
In the last 5 minutes, Loughborough threw the kitchen sink at Albion, but resolute defence and a sheer desire to keep Loughborough from scoring won the day.
Speaking after the game, Head Coach Kieran Hallett was pleased with his teams performance saying “today was an excellent example of how to play wet weather rugby, we managed the conditions better, which allowed us to manufacture better field position, which allowed us to exert pressure and force mistakes. Ultimately, our work rate and desire to do the boring things well was what won the game”.
As a result of the bonus point win, Albion climb to 9th in the National 1 league table, and face Esher at Brickfields next Saturday in their last game of 2018.