Robert Tunley at Brickfields
A second half riddled with mistakes cost Plymouth Albion dearly Saturday, as the depleted squad dropped another home game in a 35-21 National League One defeat to Rosslyn Park.
Albion seemed competitive for the opening 40 minutes, but a gradual abrasion to the squad proved too much to handle, as the visitors quite literally ran away with the result.
After playing the majority of the game to cover the landslide of injuries in his squad, player-coach Kieran Hallett admitted his side wasn’t good enough to win. He said:
“We’re not good enough.
“If you can’t win a collision, you can’t catch a pass, and we’ve got senior players making some very basic mistakes.
“Across the board we’re making way too many simplistic errors, mentally we’re weak and all over the shop at the moment.”
Getting time in on the pitch gave Hallett a different perspective on the team’s dynamic, and he shared concern with the lack of communication between the players. He said:
“In the first half we were dominant and doing everything right, everything’s loud and there’s lots of energy, but we make one mistake in the second half and it goes silent.
“I couldn’t believe how quiet it was in the second half, there’s only two guys talking out there so the boys have got to step up, there’s no cavalry coming, this is it.”
Hallett also believed a lack of confidence took a large part in the loss, saying:
“When we lose a lot of close games like we’ve done, that’s obviously going to happen.
“Today that cross field try they scored was one they executed really well, it was a high skill try which is something we’re trying to make teams do to score against us, but, the other tries they scored against us were very soft and came from our errors.
“The league’s showing that teams are better this year and if you give them opportunities they’re going to take them and we’re giving sides far too many at the moment.”
The opening five minutes were a scrappy affair as both squads tried finding their feet amongst the water-logged park.
Poor scrumming gave Rosslyn Park the first opportunity in the game as Albion were penalised for wheeling. Gregory Lound didn’t need to be asked twice, electing to use his boot to pick up the first points of the afternoon out front.
The initial slew of penalties kept up for Albion who couldn’t find a way to set the scrum properly which cost any scraps of field position they could muster. At the same time Rosslyn Park kept finding ways to grab at possession, pinning the Plymouth outfit inside their 22.
Perseverance kept the score low though, and Albion eventually wormed a way out of the half, slogging their way into Rosslyn Park territory for the first meaningful dive of the game.
The penalty plague now fell the other way with Rosslyn Park playing undisciplined rugby, giving away penalties in vital regions of the park.
Keen to go ahead, Albion put the hammer down, electing the throw from the five metres out. The ensuing maul was a strong one, but the visitors just kept themselves out of trouble, moving the mass of forwards laterally. Sensing the futility of continued pushing, the ball was popped out quickly into the hands of Dean Squire who scored a converted try with ease.
Albion’s lead was unfortunately short lived though as with the next possession Rosslyn Park punched in a reply try of their own, using the left flank to maul over a disorganised defence. The converted try swung the tally back towards the visitors at 10-7.
Mid way through the half saw Albion get another real opportunity at regaining the lead of the game, using yet another costly penalty within the Rosslyn 22 to drive a scrum up to the line. Points couldn’t be found though with the ball being lost to the ruck.
It wasn’t long before the next try, though, and it was the city side who found themselves ahead for the second time. A slow breakdown of play was abruptly snapped at halfway by Connor Eastgate, who smashed his way through two poor arm tackles to stumble his way free. With the fullback covering the wrong side of the park, Eastgate couldn’t be caught through the mud, sliding his way over with metres of room to spare. A second Matt Shepherd kick gave the hosts a 14-10 lead going in at the half.
Rosslyn Park emerged from the lockers with a sting in their attack, stunning their hosts whilst scoring 10 unopposed points in the first five minutes. After Lound’s second penalty, Rosslyn Park used a smart scrum to roll their position to within touching distance of Albion’s try line. Players pirouetted around Albion defenders who held a stout line, but Stewart Maguire ultimately proved too much of a challenge as the forward dived through the fray to score.
Things continued to slide downhill for the hosts as the rain began to fall heavier, and before long Hallett’s men were trailing by 13, conceding another Rosslyn Park try. Albion seemed lost at half way, holding no reply to a quick set of passes which left the city side playing backwards. A great supporting cast of players meant Rosslyn Park always had an outlet to offload the ball to, leading to another easy try in the corner.
Facing their biggest deficit of the game, Albion refused to let themselves to be squeezed out, showing hustle to the ball and new-found determination to get down the park. In a similar set of play to Rosslyn Park, it was Albion who found themselves the beneficiary of a fantastic set of passes that simply cut through any form of defence raised against them. The quick pace was enough to see Albion through, setting up hope that a comeback might be attainable.
The jubilation wouldn’t last long as the scoreboard pulled away one last time, with the park really opening up to great runs through the middle. This time a precise kick was laced over Albion’s line for a wide-open Connor Amesbury. Shepherd came up to make the tackle, but with two men against one, a pass was enough to guarantee another visitor try.
Ultimately, Albion ran out of gas short of the promised comeback, hurting themselves in defence and failing to regain the ball in the breakdown. With points in hand, Rosslyn Park played a smart game to run the clock out and serve Albion their eighth loss of 2018.
15 Matthew Shepherd, 14 Jordan Gott, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Connor Eastgate, 11 Jack Arnott, 10 Fraser Honey, 9 James Tait, 1 James Kenny, 2 James Salter, 3 Daniel Pullinger, 4 Daniel Collier, 5 Lewis Pearson, 4 Daniel Swain, 7 George Mills, 8 Herbie Stupple (C)
16 John Kelly, 17 David McGregor, 18 Cameron Setter, 19 Ashlee Crouch, 20 Kieran Hallett
15 Henry Robinson, 14 Charles Amesbury, 13 Connor Hayhow, 12 Joe Munro, 11 Neville Edwards, 10 Gregory Lound, 9 Benjamin Williams, 1 Alistair Wade, 2 Adam Bellamy, 3 Stewart Maguire, 4 Jonathan Mills, 5 Gregor Gillanders, 6 Adam Frampton, 7 Arthur Ellis, 8 Hugo Ellis
16 Jack Bernard, 17 Maurice Nwakor-Nwanaebi, 18 Daniel Laventure, 19 Jack Gash, 20 Harry Leonard
Albion: 3 (Squire, Eastgate, Mills)
Rosslyn Park: 4 (Bellamy, Maguire, Robinson, Nwakor)
Rosslyn Park: 3 (Lound, Robinson)
Rosslyn Park: 3
Man of the Match: John Kelly
Referee: Benjamin Russell