By Jack Guthrie.
PLYMOUTH ALBION 54 BIRMINGHAM MOSELEY 28.
Plymouth Albion’s head coach, Kieran Hallett believes his side were “much more clinical” in their 54-28 thrashing of Birmingham Moseley, bouncing back from their previous agonising loss against the side earlier on this season.
Hallett felt his side were sharper all round and did not miss many chances as they clocked up a staggering eight tries against the West Midlands side.
The first 20 minutes of the match looked very even, with a crowd of over 3,500 at Brickfields seemingly in for a tense and high-scoring affair, but the home side were the more resolute in defence and managed to spread the score-line in the second half.
Clinical finishing and defensive awareness from Plymouth saw them bag four second-half tries to Moseley’s two to seal the result.
Albion showed their intent early, with a few phases of possession from the kick-off setting them up for Connor Eastgate’s first of the afternoon, running the ball into the corner with less than two minutes on the clock. The conversion was a tricky one, with Matt Shepherd missing the mark before the game resumed.
Albion’s defence then looked lacklustre, giving the ball away from the kick-off and allowing Birmingham with possession in their 22. Moseley full-back Louis Roach scored two very similar tries in the space of four minutes, as the away side rucked over the ball well and cut open the back line with ease as two darting runs from Roach split the defence. Both tries were converted by James Williams and Moseley had a nine-point lead.
Albion heads didn’t drop, though, instead they fought back and ran the away side ragged throughout the remainder of the half. A brilliant stint of offloads and quick passing saw Josh Skelcey run in for Albion’s second, with Shepherd converting this time.
After the kick-off a careless knock-on saw Albion give up possession, but an excellent interception from Jack Arnott won the ball back, leaving him with a completely open space to run in for his first of the day with Shepherd converting.
Both sides went to the kicking game after this to relieve the pressure that both defences applied. With five minutes left until half-time Albion decided to hold the ball, using powerful picks and drives from John Kelly and Herbie Stupple to break the gain line.
A cheeky chip kick from Shepherd saw Arnott run into open space yet again, and despite fumbling with the ball in the air he managed to hold on and finish the try to further Albion’s advantage. The conversion was good from Shepherd and Plymouth held out until half-time with the score at 26-14.
Hallett praised the mentality that his players showed after going down early on, comparing it to performances earlier on in the season. He said: “Earlier this season we would have conceded tries and panicked, but now we know we have to stick to our structure and play our way. “We still had 70 minutes and we knew that anything could happen.”
Albion didn’t get the start that they hoped for coming out of half-time. A couple of passes ended up with Louis Roach who ran the ball through Albion’s defence and over for his hat-trick directly from kick-off. Williams converted, and Albion had another kick off within a minute of the second half.
Moseley started to show some ill-discipline, giving away several penalties in the second period and Albion capitalised. They kicked for a lineout in the Birmingham 22 and a barraging maul saw hooker Jamie Salter score his 10th try of the season, with Shepherd again converting.
A penalty from the scrum 10 minutes later gave the home side another chance at gaining some territory with another lineout in their oppositions 22-yard-area. This time the ball was played out into the backs, and a dummy pass from Eastgate saw him run the ball in for his second. Shepherd once again reliable from the kicking tee.
Albion then had problems with their scrum, with the referee penalising them on multiple occasions allowing Moseley to gain possession. Moseley noticed these problems and opted for scrum after every free-kick and penalty, eventually playing the ball out to the backs. A lovely offload saw substitute Robert Lewis run under the posts to claw back a try, which was converted by Williams.
Albion however found another gear for their defence. They scored two more tries in the closing 10 minutes, both from interceptions. The first was from substitute scrum-half Dan Mugford, who collected the ball after Moseley knocked it on straight into his path. A good chase was given by the Birmingham wingers, but Mugford had an open half to run into and calmly slid over the line for Shepherd to easily convert.
Two minutes from the final whistle and Dean Squire picked off a long wayward pass after a Moseley free-kick, which saw him sprint from deep within his own half and under the posts, with Shepherd sealing the game with the resultant conversion.
After their breathtakingly good performance Hallett said they had “achieved their short-term goal by getting 12 points from a block of four games” and going into the remaining games they will be aiming for the best possible position to finish their season as strongly as possible.
15. M. Shepherd 14. J. Skelcey 13. J. Dawe 12. D. Squire 11. J. Arnott 10. C. Eastgate 9. C. Setter 4. W. Norton 2. J. Salter 3. D. Pullinger 1. L. Pearson 5. J. Kelly 6. S. Daly 7. G. Mills 8. H. Stupple
16. P. Davis 17. J. Kenny 18. D. Mugford 19. D. Collier 20. J. Snow
15. L. Roach 14. T. Wara 12. R. Fatiaki 13. J. Williams 11. S. Pointon 10. S. Hollingsworth 9. S. Brown 2. J. Wrafter 1. R. Roach 3. T. Fidler 24. C. Osazuwa 5. A. Crofts 6. G. Geldenhuys 7. L. Cowen 8. C. Brightwell
16. R. Roberts 17. J. Tidewell 18. B. Lawrence 19. R. Lewis 20. M. Penn
Plymouth Albion: C. Eastgate (2); J. Skelcey; J. Arnott (2); J. Salter; D. Mugford; D. Squire
Birmingham Moseley: L. Roach (3); R. Lewis
Plymouth Albion: M. Shepherd (7)
Birmingham Moseley: J. Williams (4)