By Kevin Westlake
Plymouth Albion were making their second-longest trip of the season to National League One strugglers Canterbury this weekend. Canterbury have not been able to keep pace in the league since their promotion in April 2019 and sat bottom of the pile on 9 points. Head Coach James Scaysbrook made only one change to the side which beat Old Elthamians at Brickfields the week before, with Scott Makepeace replacing Lewis Pearson.
With conditions perfect for rugby, Albion set about looking to make it 3 wins from 3 in 2020. Albion certainly started the stronger, with the forward pack dominating possession for the opening stages. They were rewarded when Connor Eastgate crossed after 5 minutes after some sustained forward pressure. Eastgate converted his own try with ease.
Shortly after, Canterbury scored their only points of the afternoon with Aiden Moss dotting down after a lapse of concentration in the midfield. The conversion was missed. On 24 minutes, Albion were back in the driving seat as prop Koree Britton crept over the line after a powerful forward drive just wide of the uprights. Eastgate made no mistake with the kick.
With half-time fast approaching, Albion were awarded a scrum on the Canterbury try line and after a huge forward drive, Rus Tuima dived over, but referee Jonathan Cook awarded a penalty try after a Canterbury infringement. Albion took a 5-21 lead into the changing rooms.
The second half started with Scaysbrook making several changes, with Cam Setter, Josh Skelcey and Dan Swain entering the arena for Snow, Morley and Tuima. These changes heralded immediate gains with newcomer Setter crossing for the bonus point try after some brutal forward power. Eastgate converted.
Next over the whitewash was Dean Squire, who after a line-break from Alex Ducker went in out wide. Eastgate missed the conversion from the touchline. Albion then moved through the gears, with the forwards controlling possession at the breakdown and the backline cutting some beautiful lines. Scott Makepeace crossed after 57 minutes with a dashing run through the midfield defence. Eastgate converted with ease.
At 5 – 40, Albion could have taken their foot off the gas, but they continued to apply the pressure. Cam Setter added his second try of the afternoon on 67 minutes with a well-worked try, which started in the Albion half. Eastgate missed the following kick.
The game was sealed in the 74th minute when Shea Cornish danced his way through a beleaguered defence to score Albion’s 8th try of the afternoon. Eastgate added the conversion, which took the Plymouth side through the 50-point mark for the first time this season.
James Scaysbrook’s side looks to be in a different place mentally and physically since the Christmas break. The desire, passion and technical performances in recent weeks have been nothing short of sensational. Defensively, the Plymouth side looks disciplined and confident. The Albion pack have been relentlessly pressing in attack and defence and there is a visible desire to finish on a high this term.
The result elevates Albion to 9th in National One with 53 points. They face a tough battle at Brickfields next week with 2nd place Rosslyn Park making the trip to Devon after their win against Sale FC this weekend.
MOTM: Connor Eastgate.