Bishops Stortford 32 – Albion 19
Charles Dickens famously wrote the novel ‘A tale of two cities’ in 1859 and, a little over 150 years later, Plymouth Albion performed a game of rugby that could be called ‘a tale of two halves’!
Leading 19-3 at the break, all looked rosy for coach Damian Welch’s charges following tries from Alex Ducker and Jake Clemson (along with three penalties from the trusty boot of Tom Putt). Sadly, that was all the blows the Ocean Cities finest would land as their opponents scored 29 unanswered points to take a bonus-point win.
Lining up on a clear day with very little wind it was Albion first into their straps with the impressive Alex Ducker scoring after just four minutes, Tom Putt missed the conversion but was spot on with a penalty soon after taking the lead to 8-0 with just ten minutes on the clock. Showing no signs of fatigue after a 6 am start, things got even better when Jake Clemson was first to follow up on a loose kick taking the lead out to 13-0.
Although conversions weren’t landing for him, penalties certainly were as Tom Putt added a further two, leaving Albion 19 points to the good at the half. Captain Herbie Stupple along with Shek Sherriff and Jeremy To’a were certainly the driving force taking Albion beyond their hosts. For most spectators, the clinical performance from the visitors left only the bravest home supporters expecting much of a comeback, but comeback they did!
However, with four changes in the first minute of the second period of play, Stortford were a team revived. They began to wrestle control of the set-piece and claw their way back into the game with a penalty kick reducing the deficit to 13 points. It was soon after this that a crucial moment turned the game on its head.
Albion were full steam ahead attacking the Stortford line when the ball was knocked on and the home team hacked on. First back was Alex Ducker who fielded the kick but was adjudged to have held onto the ball on the floor and penalised, worse was to come as the referee branded a yellow card deeming the Cornish flyer throwing the ball away. A quick-thinking Stortford player retrieved it, took a quick tap and scuttled in under the posts. From potentially being 24-6 up, Albion found themselves narrowly leading 19-14 and the resurgent Stortford didn’t look back.
Two further Albion sin bins and three Bishops Stortford tries took the game beyond Albion and must leave the coaching staff with a conundrum as to what is happening in the second forty minutes of their fixtures. Just last week, a desperate Rosslyn Park did all they could to end the first half with Albion in the ascendancy, yet they bulldozed a big score in the second forty!
With the visit of the impressive Rams this coming weekend the challenge gets no easier and there is a big onus on the people of Plymouth to get out and support their team.
Shakespearean prose started the match report but it’s a lot more contemporary for the game ahead with the eponymous Yazz and, ‘the only way is up’!