By Jack Guthrie
Plymouth Albion head coach James Scaysbrook has praised the major effort of his team, after thumping second-placed Rosslyn Park 41-22 in their National Division One game on Saturday, extending their perfect record to four out of four wins in 2020.
He was particularly impressed by their consistency at both the offensive and defensive ends of the game saying: “there was just a huge amount of effort and you saw some of the defensive sets in the first half, and then particularly in the second half we showed that we fought for one another, and that was the telling factor.”
Despite an injury setback to fly-half Sam Morley in the second half, Scaysbrook also commended the backs in their ability to adapt and change the game adding: “the game opened up massively in the second half and he [Connor Eastgate] certainly played a massive part in that; and the wingers both also had good first half’s, Shea [Cornish] is elusive and wriggles away from tackles and Alex [Ducker] has a lot of pace and they’re both playing very well.”
The team came into the game off the back of three wins out of three in the new decade, looking rejuvenated as a side and welcoming a fierce Rosslyn Park side who were sat second in the table before their meeting at Brickfields. Both sides came into the game desperate to make a statement.
It wasn’t long until the first score was chalked up, with the away side capitalising first. A quick break down the left wing left a two-man overlap, with Craig Holland receiving the ball before touching down with ease.
Harry Leonard converted, and Albion came back almost from the kick-off, scoring a try of their own less than a minute later through captain George Mills after Shea Cornish broke through a tackle leaving him ‘one-on-one’. He found Mills off a supporting run and the hosts clawed back the deficit, with Eastgate equalising from the conversion.
Both sides faced some disciplinary issues in the first period, with Albion conceding the biggest chance first. Leonard stepped up to the tee again and scored the penalty with relative ease to gain a slender advantage. Albion then pressed through the forwards and camped along the Rosslyn Park five-metre-line. Despite rugged defence from the visitors, Lewis Pearson was able to penetrate the line and go over to score. Eastgate converted again and found himself at the tee soon after for a penalty.
He capitalised on this chance and ended the half with Albion seven points up in a closely fought battle.
Shortly into the second half, Morley was substituted after picking up a knock in a tackle, with Josh Skelcey replacing him to go full-back, with Eastgate taking up the 10-role.
After the positional shake-up, the hosts gained serious momentum and managed to score two converted tries in the space of four minutes. The first came from Cornish who plucked the ball out of the air as it popped up from a maul, then darting over the line with a quick burst of pace. The second came from a beautifully executed kick and chase move, with Eastgate finding space in behind the winger for Alex Ducker to blitz him for pace, cruising over the line with the ball.
Rosslyn park made a couple of changes in their pack and got a try back. Powerful drives through the ‘pick and go’ battered Albion’s defence from a line-out after a penalty, Leonard drove the ball around the backs and in for the score, then converting his own try successfully.
The went on to concede an easy penalty opportunity within their own 22-yard line. Albion opted to kick for goal in front of the posts, with Eastgate again successful. This gave them a comfortable lead with the away outfit trailing by 17 points alongside a secured bonus point.
The hosts weren’t finished there. Eastgate replicated his long kick and chase move with an identical result. Ducker managed to outpace his man significantly and broke free of the tap tackle, sliding over the whitewash into the left corner. Eastgate finished his kicking game with a perfect record, converting again notching his seventh kick of the contest.
In the dying embers of the game, Koree Britton was put in the book helping Rosslyn Park secure a consolation try with another barraging flurry of drives, which forced the 14-man Albion open for the final act of the game. The conversion was missed, and Albion fans revelled in the emphatic victory against one of the league’s promotion chasers.
Scaysbrook will now be looking to replicate the intensity and dynamism on display going into Albion’s stint of away fixtures against Sale and Blackheath. With the recent performances on display and key players yet to return to the action there is no doubt that expectations will be for the streak to reach 6 straight wins in the coming weeks.
15. C. Eastgate 14. S. Cornish 13. D. Squire 12. J. Pohe 11. A. Ducker 10. S. Morley 9. J. Snow 1. K. Britton 2. J. Salter 3. J. Higgins 4. D. Collier 5. L. Pearson 6. J. Kelly 7. G. Mills 8. S. Makepeace
16. P. Ingoldsby 17. A. Smith 18. C. Setter 19. A. Crouch 20. J. Skelcey
15. B. Howard 14. B. Marfo 13. N. Scott 12. J. Munro 11. C. Holland 10. H. Leonard 9. D. Lewis 1. K. Traynor 2. R. Roach 3. P. Doran-Jones 4. S. Twomey 5. G. Gillanders 6. J. Freeman 7. A. Ellis 8. D. Laventure
16. A. Wade 17. S. Maguire 18. H. Spencer 19. J. Gash 20. R. Cheeseman