A sparkling Putt drives Plymouth to maiden victory
Albion 36 – Moseley 12
Entering their sixth fixture of the National League One campaign, it would have taken a brave Albion supporter to predict a home side win. Visitors to The Brickfields, Birmingham Moseley, had four wins on the log to Albion’s zero and boasted a strong team including former Premiership star Ashley Johnson in their XV. Fortunately for the Ocean City faithful, Damian Welch’s team had not read the script and took the honours with a convincing 34-12 win.
After a literal mauling at Cinderford last week, Albion took to the game with a renewed vigour to the warm applause of another bumper Brickfields attendance. With no wind, unseasonably warm weather and a few new faces in the team, Albion controlled the first period of the game with probing attacks spanning the width of the pitch.
Outside backs Shea Cornish and Frankie Nowell were especially threatening as the Midlander’s defence was continually tested on either edge. Upfront, the arrival of Cornish reinforcements Will Gibson and Edd Scragg were also proving very useful with Scragg particularly impressive generalling what had been a malfunctioning lineout.
After the visitors repelled a series of well-orchestrated lineout drives by illegal means, Ashley Johnson was sin-binned. Against 14 men, it didn’t take long for the pack to conspire to drive over Will Gibson for a try on debut. Soon after that fine interplay between backs and forwards saw Putt canter in for his first try of the day. He converted both tries and added a penalty for a 17-0 halftime score.
Having relinquished a 17-3 halftime score earlier in the term, there was still an air of nervousness around the ground but, following a sparkling display from the Plymouth Cheerleaders and an entertaining crossbar challenge, Albion emerged for the second half in no mood to capitulate as they had a Bishops Stortford four weeks earlier.
The pattern of the first half continued with Albion’s startling multiphase rugby dominating proceedings. As ever, the warhorse (and recently announced the recipient of a Testimonial) Herbie Stupple was at the heart of the packs endeavour while the Polynesian Powerhouses, Jeremy To’a and Setareki Raumakita were certainly making inroads through the middle. Indeed, it was from a break by the Fijian Marine that led to the best try of the game.
Taking an outside line around halfway, he drifted past his opposite man feeding Cornish flyer Alex Ducker who took the play into the opposition 22. Some sharp handling and powerful carries led to Tom Putt finding space on the touchline to squeeze in and score the try that settled the result.
There was still time for Birmingham Moseley to score a couple of consolations but, as they chased the game, the familiar face of Dan Pullinger (on his return after 5 weeks out with a foot injury) latched onto a loose pass to score a very popular interception. Brickfields erupted as the bonus was secured, the team moved off the bottom of the table and a very late night was guaranteed for the faithful!
Of note in the starting team was usual fly-half Tom Putt at scrum-half (affectionately nicknamed ‘Faff Du Putt’ by his teammates – playing on the juxtaposition of internationals Faff De Klerk and Antoine Du Pont). He had a fine match, scoring two fantastic tries with great support lines, missed only one conversion and was duly rewarded as man of the match. Speaking after the game, Welch was full of praise for the out of position star, “I’ve got a lot of respect for Putty stepping into a role that if he’s honest isn’t one he particularly enjoys and performing so well in a winning display. I thought his kicking was excellent and he was a real driver for the team and thoroughly deserved his MOM”
He continued “It’s been a 5-game learning curve building up to this game with parts of a performance in evidence each week. With a young squad, it was always going to take time to knit all those parts together and I’m really proud of the boys for sticking with the project and a bonus point was a fitting reward for all their efforts”
With games against teams close to them at the foot of the table in the next few weeks, there is real optimism about the Brickfields that a winning run could be on the cards, Welsh Concluded “The challenge for us now is to continue to build upon this win next week. We realise there is still plenty to work on and there is the potential for a lot of progress in this squad which is extremely exciting. Hopefully, the boys can take confidence from this and lead us well into next week”
Albion is on the road next week at Blackheath before their return to Brickfields on the 30th to play promoted side Caldy. If they continue with the form from Saturday, it may well be that a corner has been turned and the team can start to look up the table!
Match report By Chris Bentley
All photographs are courtesy of the wonderful David Cunningham – www.viewsthroughalens.com
We hope you can join us for our next home game on Saturday 30th October!