By Tim March at Woodlands Memorial Park
Plymouth Albion coasted to a bonus point win over bottom-of-the-table Fylde, while league leaders Coventry lost for the first time this season.
Albion were virtually untested throughout the match with tries from back row Sam Daly and newly signed dual-registered Exeter Chiefs winger Harrison Cully in the first half.
It took Fylde until deep into the second half to make any impact on the game when winger Henry Hadfield had a try disallowed.
Albion’s full back Matt Shepherd and scrum half Cameron Setter scored in the final 10 minutes to get the bonus point win.
Albion certainly started the stronger team with most of the possession.
Sam Daly scored the first try of the day putting the Devon team up with a swift move left, converted by Dan Mugford.
Next, Harrison Cully finished off a move deep on the left-hand side of the pitch.
John Kelly’s yellow card gave Fylde their first opportunity to move within touching distance of the try line, five metres out, but it was wasted due to a poorly thrown line out.
Albion reminded Fylde of their threat as Mugford’s interception allowed him to make up 50 metres but a great tackle from Tom Carleton stopped him in his tracks.
Fylde started the second half as they played the first, with simple mistakes leading to prolonged Albion possession.
Albion kept the ball in Fylde’s 22 for extended periods, but some resolute defending kept them from capitalising.
Twenty minutes into the half, Fylde finally applied some pressure and even put the ball over the line, but Henry Hadfield’s try was disallowed after being deemed in touch.
With 10 minutes to go and needing two tries for the bonus point, Albion won a penalty in front of the posts and opted for the scrum.
This led to Matt Shepherd skipping through to get Albion’s third try of the game. Mugford duly added the extras.
Then in the final moments Cameron Setter put the ball over, securing the bonus point win, and Mugford converted, bringing the final score to Fylde 0-26 Plymouth Albion.
Albion head coach Kieran Hallett said: “To go up to Fylde, a team that scores a lot of points at home, and keep them off the score board was a phenomenal effort.”
It was Albion’s first competitive fixture for three weeks and Hallett said legs were a bit rusty: “In the first half our decision making was very good. The variety in attack was spot on, but we only came away with 12 points and that was down to a lack of execution.”
Hallett singled-out second row Sean Lonsdale as man of the match and also praised Harrison Cully’s performance: “He was man of the match at Esher before Christmas and he’s been playing some good stuff. With Jack Arnott and Robin Wedlake out, we felt we could accommodate another winger.”
Albion’s win coincided with league leaders Coventry suffering their first defeat of the season, away at Blackheath (61-29): “There were a few raised eyebrows in the changing room when we saw the score line, but it doesn’t make any difference in the short term. We don’t worry about how other teams do, we just try and focus on ourselves and win every game we can,” said Hallett.
Plymouth Albion’s next match is against Loughborough Students at Brickfields on Saturday, January 20 (KO 3pm).
15 Alex Dolly, 14 Henry Hadfield, 13 Luke Fowden, 12 Connor Wilkinson, 11 Tom Carleton, 10 Greg Smith, 9 Greg Nicholls; 1 Dan Richardson, 2 Tom Burtonwood, 3 Adam Lewis, 4 Nick Ashcroft, 5 Olli Parkinson, 6 Matt Garrod, 7 Will Hopwood, 8 Dan Vernon.
16 Mark Irving, 17 Ben Gregory, 18 Harlan Corrie, 19 Adam McCarthy, 20 Jake Foster.
15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Matt Crosscombe, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Harvey Skinner, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Dan Mugford, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 Will Norton, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Sean Lonsdale, 5 John Kelly, 6 Ed Holmes, 7 Sam Daly, 8 Eoghan Grace (Captain).
16 Rupert Freestone, 17 Jack Owlett, 18 George Mills, 19 Jordan Gott, 20 Joe Snow
Plymouth Albion: Daly, Cully, Shepherd and Setter
Plymouth Albion: Mugford (3).
Plymouth Albion: Kelly
Man of the Match: Sean Lonsdale