By Jack Guthrie
Plymouth Albion put in a barnstorming performance at Brickfields on Saturday, scoring seven tries past National Division One opponent Cambridge in a nine-try-thriller which ended 49-10 to the hosts.
Albion’s head coach James Scaysbrook admired the work of the forwards saying, “It was nice to see some ball tries and a couple of scrum pens, they certainly worked hard in the week, we worked hard on the mauls and it’s paid dividends today. It was very good to see.”
With this win moving Albion two places up the table, Scaysbrook wants the team focusing on their performance goals rather than their league position goals saying “In terms of points and league positions we haven’t set any targets, but we definitely have performance targets, and one of those will certainly be to not give so many penalties away which is something we can definitely work on.”
Albion’s dominance at both ends of the pitch was the determining factor, proving to be clinical with their scoring chances as well as preventing the visitors from capitalising on good territory. Joe Snow and Sam Morley dictated the game from their half-back positions as the forwards proved bullish in their carries.
The game started very brightly for both teams, as they each scored within the opening 10 minutes. Albion’s first came through Max Norey from a maul that ripped through the Cambridge 22 and collapsed over the line, giving Connor Eastgate an easy conversion.
Cambridge replied instantly, chasing down an attempted clearing kick from the hosts had just restarted. The ball bobbled over the line and Matt Hema got a palm on the ball just before the dead-ball line. The following conversion was missed, and Albion needed to regroup.
Josh Skelcey was the second Albion player with a try, picking up the ball from a ruck on the try line and diving under the posts. The try was created by an excellent dummy pass from Morley and a barraging run from Javiah Pohe, leaving Skelcey gifting an easy conversion to Eastgate.
The pace of the game slowed for the next 10 minutes, then exploding into life as Dan Collier made a line-break. He was brought down just before the whitewash, but Joe Snow was following up and mimicked the try scored by Skelcey; carrying the ball over for five points with another two added on by Eastgate.
That conversion proved to be the last impact from Connor Eastgate after heavy contact on his head in a tackle left him out cold. After almost 10 minutes of treatment, he walked off the pitch to rapturous applause from the crowd, replaced by Tom Putt.
Albion saw out the half on their own five-metre-line, holding off the attempts of Cambridge to claw back another score. John Kelly saw yellow for going off the feet, on his milestone 50th cap for the club but the home side held strong and saw out the remainder of the period leading 21-5.
Albion again burst into life in coming out of the break, with Collier making another break. With less than five minutes played Collier broke through two players and found himself open from 30 yards. He managed to find the pace to beat two of the Cambridge back to the try-line and dived over the line by the right post, securing the bonus point. Sam Morley took up goal kicking duty in Eastgate’s absence and made no mistake with his first attempt.
Albion then took a stranglehold on the game and pummelled the visiting defence, forcing them to camp on their five-metre-line awaiting the inevitable. James Kenny managed to break the line with a powerful charge from the ruck, driving the ball over the line with Morley able to convert again.
Albion’s backs took the game by the scruff of the neck after this score, consistently breaking the line through Ducker and Cornish with their electric pace gifting multiple opportunities to cause Cambridge more problems.
On 67 minutes Ducker made an excellent run through the heart of the pitch with Joe Snow following up. A simple pass in their ‘two-on-one’ gifted Snow his second try, capping off his stellar performance before being substituted. His half-back partner Morley was able to convert again from the tee.
Cambridge managed to muster a consolation try at the death through substitute Rhodri Adamson. He picked up the loose ball from a ruck and rounded the defence to score in the corner. Former Albion man Lawrence Rayner’s conversion came up short as they rushed back for the restart.
Albion’s seventh and final try came through Dan Collier once again, this time a more conventional forward’s try. He was at the base of a driving maul which powered over the try-line. Another simple kick from Morley ended the game with the players’ embraces showing the pride and togetherness of the team.
Plymouth Albion have shown at multiple times through coach Scaysbrook’s reign that they are a real force to be reckoned with. With dominant performances such as the one over the weekend becoming more frequent, fans will be upping their expectations and aspirations for the team as they continue to hunt down the promotion places.
15. J. Skelcey 14. S. Cornish 13. C. Eastgate. 12. J. Pohe 11. A. Ducker 10. S. Morley 9. J. Snow 1. J. Kenny 2. M. Norey 3. J. Higgins 4. D. Collier 5. L. Pearson 6. J. Kelly 7. G. Mills 8. H. Stupple
16. K. Britton 17. T. Putt 18. F. Perica 19. D. Pullinger 20. O. Mulberry
Tries: M. Norey, J. Skelcey, J. Snow (2), D. Collier (2), J. Kenny
Convs: C. Eastgate (3), S. Morley (4)
15. J. Green 14. J. Martin 13. J. Tarrant 12. M. Hema 11. J. Patrick 10. L. Rayner 9. F. Creighton 1. M. Meek 2. W. Priestley 3. H. Peck 4. G. Bretag-Norris 5. K. Hutchinson 6. J. McCloud 7. J. Tunney 8. B. Adams
16. C. Burman 17. Z. Nearchou 18. B. Ibrahim 19. N. Sloot 20. R. Adamson
Tries: M. Hema, R. Adamson
(Cover photo: Zoe Barton)
Full post-match interview: