Report by Rob Kershaw / Photography by David Cunningham
Plymouth Albion produced another home display to behold as they came out 36-24 winners over Darlington Mowden Park at Brickfields.
With a lot of rain in the early hours, the game was played in surprisingly clear conditions and Darlington were given an early opportunity first. Adopting a conservative approach, the men from the far north opted to go for goal from long range. Unfortunately for them, Matthew Minogue’s effort at the posts travelled wide.
Minogue would soon have another opportunity from close range, and this time he made no mistake, drawing first blood on what was to become a trying afternoon for the visitors.
Albion’s response was instant and relentless. Torin Clarke and Jake Clemson combined to get Albion close to the line, but some brave defending denied the hosts the opening try. After a long time camped in their opponents 22, Albion found joy 15 minutes in when Harry Wilkinson drove over from a customary line-out, and Tom Putts added the extras to out the Ocean City side in front.
Plymouth were then forced to soak up a tremendous amount of pressure. By hook or crook, they did so but conceded a few too many penalties for the officials, captain Herbie Stupple the victim being sent to the bin for a deliberate knock-on. In his absence, Morgan Passman sprinted over to regain a narrow lead. That was about as good as it got for the visitors.
The Albion response was phenomenal. The first strike was sublime as the ‘Welsh Wizard’ Phil Jones opted to return a clearance kick, chipping to himself and setting Seta Raumakita clear to sprint over for Albion’s second of the afternoon.
The third try came just before the half and was one for the purists. Albion’s pack mauled DMP all of thirty metres before the Bude Bulldozer Angus Hodges flew over following a neat break and offload by Wilkinson.
HALF TIME Albion 19 DMP 10
The second half got off to the perfect start – That man Hodges linked onto a deft offload from Putt before releasing Jeremy To’a into space, the Swiss Samoan collecting impressively before flying over and securing the bonus for Albion.
Talite Vailote was penalised for not rolling away on the line from a driving maul, giving Albion a penalty try as they added seven more valuable points to their tally.
Tom Putt converted a penalty to add the last of Albion’s points. With the game in the bag, Albion will be a bit upset at relaxing into the last five minutes as the visitors chased a bonus point scoring four tries. They very nearly got it as Henry Hadfield and Passman hit back before the officials called time leaving Albion 36-24 winners
Speaking after the game, Backs and attack coach Ryan Lamb added “The boys did really well, we spoke in the week about having more intensity and more endeavour in what we wanted to do both sides of the ball; both attack and defence and we definitely did that. Being at home also gave us a big boost in front of our fans and its great to get a win in front of them. I felt we reacted to things much better than we did last year and I’m excited to see just how good we can be”
Ramaz Rukhadze, Harry Wilkinson, Dan Pullinger, Jake Clemson, Dan Collier, Torin Clarke, Angus Hodges, Herbie Stupple, Jack Oulton, Tom Putt, Frankie Nowell, Jeremy To’a, Seta Raumakita, Kyle Speare, Phil Jones
Replacements: Jamie Salter, Kyle Beasley, Shek Sheriff, Morgan Stone, Isaak Welch
Darlington Mowden Park:
Alfie Barron, Max Fraine, Sam Kyle-Clay, Dave Fisher, Max Davies, Marcus Tiffen, Ollie Hodgson, Ali Ledingham, Ollie Walker Ben Frankland, Callum McKenzie, Morgan Passman, Matt Minogue, Will Hardwick
Replacements: Carl Guest, Talite Vaioleti, Yaree Fantini, Henry Hadfield, Callum Pascoe