Report by Paddy Marsh.
When you have lost your last five games any win is crucial and certainly welcome. Albion’s poor recent run saw us slip into one of the National League One relegation places, but this narrow victory over newly promoted Sale FC will be a big boost to the players and the coaches.
The strong wind that was blowing right down the pitch had a big influence on the match. Not for the first time this season, both teams on show played better into the wind, an advantage Albion had in the second half.
A relieved Head Coach Kieran Hallett said, “It wasn’t the prettiest performance out there but I thought we managed the conditions well.
“We did the dirty things better than Sale and I don’t think Sale stressed us out at all.”
Hallett added, “That win is massively important in terms of confidence, but it is only one game and one win.
“We can’t afford to sit back as we have a difficult trip to Loughborough next week and they have been playing well recently.”
After Albion’s defeat to Birmingham Moseley, Albion made four changes to the starting line-up. Jack Arnott switched from the wing to full back, while centre Seta Raumakita, scrum-half Joe Snow and flanker Rus Tuima returned to the side. Albion also handed a league debut to Frank Kelly who started on the left wing.
Sales tarted the game brightly, but it was clear from the early exchanges that Albion had the greater firepower up front. When Sale were penalised twice at the five-metre scrums, the referee yellow-carded visiting prop John Blanchard. Albion immediately took advantage of the extra man when lock Lewis Pearson forced his way over by the posts and fly-half Connor Eastgate added the simple conversion.
Once restored to the full 15, Sale started to put Albion under some pressure, but the home defence, when tested, looked very solid.
In first half stoppage time, on a rare visit to the Albion 22, Sale opened account when quick hands put full-back Jonty Rawcliffe over in the corner. Scrum-half Matt Bradley converted from the touchline to leave the score 7-7 at the interval.
Albion regained the lead shortly after half-time when Raumakita off-loaded out of the tackle to Flanker George Mills, who crossed for a try that Eastgate converted.
Late in the game Albion went down to 14 when lock John Kelly was sin-binned but despite coming under pressure, they managed not concede any more points.
In added time at the end of the game, when awarded a penalty, Albion opted to go for a kick at goal. Eastgate missed the target with the last kick of the game, leaving Albion with four vital point, while Sale travelled north with a losing bonus point for their efforts.
Plymouth Albion 14
Sale FC 7
Albion: Pearson, Mills
Albion: Eastgate 2
Referee: Charles Gayther