By Kevin Westlake
After the late withdrawal of inspirational skipper Herbie Stupple due to a knock picked up in training on Thursday, Albion coach Dan Williams was forced into a number of changes which included moving Rus Tuima from the second row backwards, bringing John Kelly from the bench and the inclusion of Sam Daly into the match day squad.
The team arrived in Cambridge full of confidence after a win at Brickfields the week before against a resilient Ampthill side. The match started with Albion heaping on the pressure, with some effective line breaks from Dan Mugford and Jon Dawe, but It was forward pressure that dominated the opening exchanges, with the pack asserting their authority in every department. Cambridge were penalised in their own half and it didn’t take Fraser Honey long to dispatch the ball into the corner. From the resulting line-out, Albion’s catch and drive was irresistible and after 5 phases of play, hooker Davy McGregor crossed the whitewash on six minutes. Honey duly added the extras.
The pack continued marching forward, with a second try from a similar move following in the 10th minute. Dual Registered Marcus Street scoring his first for Albion this season wide on the right. This time, Honey couldn’t add the conversion.
Cambridge didn’t take long to get on the scoresheet though, missed tackles and a searing line break, sent winger Nana Asiedu in under the posts with Fly Half Penfold converting. In the 26th minute, Albion were penalised for not releasing the player at the ruck. Penfold stepped up and added the three.
This gave Cambridge some belief, and on 31 minutes, number 8 Steven Hipwell charged over the line out wide. Penfold couldn’t convert. With the clock running down to half time, Albion infringed once again, leaving Penfold the opportunity to extend the Cambridge lead at Half Time. However, the penalty kick was missed.
HALF TIME Cambridge 15 Plymouth Albion 12
The second half started as the first began, with Albion caught offside. Penfold stepped up and slotted 3 points, extending their lead. Shortly after, Luke Chapman received treatment on his shoulder and was replaced in the front row by Dan Pullinger. His impact was felt immediately, after some strong play in the Cambridge 22, the forwards once again showed their power, with Pullinger crossing to put Albion within one point. Honey added the extras and Albion took the lead.
Cambridge made changes in the pack and started making progress out wide, a near interception from Albion wing Jack Arnott ended in a knock on.
On 55 minutes, Albion were penalised for offside, and Penfold stepped up for what looked like an easy three, but he pulled it wide. The turning point was on 62 minutes, after a series of penalties, Dan Collier saw Yellow for pulling down the maul. During this period, Cambridge were in the ascendancy. They crossed for two tries from Benoy and Shoeman, both converted by Penfold. When Collier returned to the pitch, Albion were 13 points behind and had a lot to do, but on 76 minutes a well worked try from veteran hooker Jamie Salter gave Albion hope and the try bonus point. Honey added the conversion.
With the clock running down, Cambridge made two final changes and Albion defended 15 phases of Cambridge play, with Sam Daly popping up to turn the ball over at the ruck. Cambridge infringed and Albion were awarded the penalty. Honey dispatched the ball into touch on the 22, but from the resulting line-out, a penalty was awarded to Cambridge. With that, Cambridge tapped and kicked the ball into touch, bringing the game to an end.
Albion return from Cambridge with 2 points in National One and look to next weekend when they entertain Caldy at Brickfields.
Collier – Plymouth Albion