Jersey 18 – Plymouth Albion 23
Saturday 26th October 2013
In front of a large band of travelling supporters at St Peter, Plymouth Albion produced their best performance of the season to complete the league double over Jersey.
The win was the third in a row for Albion following on from the two B & I Cup victories over Nottingham and Stirling County.
After beating Jersey 41-27 on the opening day of the season, Albion went into the game knowing they faced a severe test from the home pack, which is considered to be one of the best in the league. The Albion pack benefitting from the recent input from former prop Wayne Reed more than matched the home eight.
To go alongside that there was a superb defensive performance from 1 to 15, which meant Jersey very rarely got over the gain line.
Albion’s win, which was their first away from home in the league this season, was marred by a serious looking shoulder injury suffered by fly half Dan Mugford.
Mugford was taken to hospital after the match for a check up and as a consequence missed the flight home.
A smiling Albion head coach James Shanahan said, “The win was massively pleasing. I thought we were outstanding today against a big powerful Jersey who came at us hard.
“Our line out and scrum was great although towards the end we wobbled a couple of times.
“For once we didn’t put over our kicks at goal but I couldn’t fault any of the players today.”
When asked if he wanted to highlight anyone Shanahan replied, I
thought prop Dave Morton was superb. He played a full 80 minutes against one of the best props in the league and put in between 15 and 20 tackles.
“Toby Howley-Berridge also had a great game today and was a real handful in midfield.”
Albion made seven changes to the team that beat Stirling County in the British & Irish Cup.
In the backs there were recalls for full back Chris Elder, centre Ben Woods and top points scorer, fly half Dan Mugford. On the right wing Tom Bowen regained his place in the side, having served a two week RFU suspension.
Albion’s front five was unchanged with hooker Max Crumpton making his league debut for the club. It was all change in the Albion back row with Sean-Michael Stephen, Rob Langley and skipper Rhys Oakley all returning to the starting line up.
Albion won the toss and gave Jersey first use of the strong wind blowing down the pitch.
Albion came out of the blocks flying and took the lead in the 4th minute when Howley-Berridge twisted out of the tackle and scored under the posts.
Mugford added the simple conversion before Jersey hit back and levelled matters from the restart.
From a maul on the Albion 22 scrum half Nicky Griffiths cut through the visitors defence for a try that fly half Niall O’Connor converted.
When Albion were caught offside after a high up and under O’Connor put Jersey ahead with a 42 metre penalty.
Albion then gave away an identical penalty and O’Connor punished them again, this time with a 45 metre kick. Mugford was wide with a penalty given for not releasing but the fly half made amends by scoring Albion’s second try.
Mugford sprinted into the corner after taking a well timed pass from scrum half Ruairi Cushion but was unable to add the extras to his try.
After colliding with team mate Ben Woods, Mugford was helped from the pitch after receiving lengthy attention.
Declan Cusack replaced Mugford and his first action was to take a penalty kick at goal.
Cusack totally miskicked the ball which hardly left the ground to send Jersey into the interval leading 13-12.
Shortly after the restart Albion got their noses in front for the second time when Cusack slotted 45 metre penalty given for an offence at a line out.
Albion were then reduced to 14 when Oakley was yellow carded for taking out a man at a line out.
Jersey, with the man advantage up front, opted for the 5 metre scrum but Albion crucially took a strike against the head and cleared the danger.
Albion survived the next 10 minutes without conceding any points and shortly after Oakley returned to the field Albion stretched their advantage to five points when Cusack kicked another long range penalty.
Albion’s crucial third try which put them two scores clear came in the 64th minute.
Wing Jack Arnott fielded a kick ahead and cut infield before putting out a long pass to replacement flanker Eoghan Grace.
Grace cut through the Jersey defence and fed full back Chris Elder who went over for his third league try of the season.
Cusack was wide with the conversion before Jersey got themselves a losing bonus point when No 8 Tom brown finished off a catch and drive move.
The Albion squad had little time to reflect on their showing as they had a quick dash to the nearby airport for the flight home.
Jersey: G Pointer, J Copsey, D Locke, M McCrea, E Dawson, N O’Connor (A Penberthy 67), N Griffiths (J Dudley 62), S McCarthy (T Fidler 73), E Taione, D Young (N Selway 60), N Campbell (D Markham67), A Rae capt, B Maidment (J Voss 73), J Buckle, T Brown reps not used T Fidler, D Felton, D Markham, J Voss, A Penberthy
Tries, Griffiths, Brown
Pens, O’Connor 2
Plymouth Albion: C Elder, T Bowen, B Woods (H Stevens 69), T Howley-Berridge, J Arnott, D Mugford (D Cusack 38), R Cushion (P Rowley 74), B Rogers (M Shields 74), M Crumpton (G Evans 74), D Morton, I Ascroft-Leigh, D Williams (H Tovey 58), S-M Stephen, R Langley, R Oakley capt (E Grace 58)
Tries, Howley-Berridge, Mugford, Elder
Pens, Cusack 2
Yellow card, Oakley
Referee Martin Fox (RFU)