Munster A 23 Plymouth Albion 9
Friday 13 December 2013
In a city famous for its crystal glass, the only thing broken on Friday evening was Plymouth Albion’s 100% record in this seasons British & Irish Cup.
Albion, despite the loss in Waterford, still head pool 4 but now only on points difference from Munster.
The group winners will be decided after the next two matches, which sees both Albion and Munster playing Stirling County and Nottingham.
If Albion are going to top pool 4 and therefore progress to the quarter finals they will probably need bonus point victories over Stirling and Munster as well as running up healthy points totals.
Championship rivals Nottingham could do Albion a big favour by beating Munster at Meadow Lane or at worst stop the Irishmen scoring four tries.
Albion very nearly came back from Ireland with a losing bonus point but were denied it when the young Welsh referee sin binned prop Lloyd Fairbrother late in the game.
The referee then rubbed salt into Albion’s wounds when, from the resultant 5 metre scrum, he awarded Munster a controversial try when it appeared that No 8 C J Stander had been held up.
A disappointed Albion head coach James Shanahan reflecting on the defeat said, “It was a very scrappy game and was very much a stop start affair. It was a frustrating game to watch and we didn’t get the rub of the green from the referee.
“Munster controlled the game in the first half but throughout the game we had dominance in the scrum. Unfortunately the referee didn’t see it that way and instead of getting penalties we had Fairbrother yellow carded for dropping the scrum.
“We created two very good try scoring chances. One was pulled back for a forward pass and for the second when Munster knocked on the referee didn’t play advantage.
“Nothing seemed to go our way and even at the end when their No 8 was held up over the line the referee gave the try.
“I told the boys at the end that we are still top of the pool but we will need to win the last two games probably with try scoring bonus points.
Albion made five changes to the team that beat Munster 17-7 at Brickfields the previous weekend.
On the right wing Lewis Warner came in for top try scorer Tom Bowen, who missed most of the weeks training through illness.
In the front row hooker Max Crumpton replaced Luke Cowan-Dickie who injured his knee in the first game against Munster.
Albion skipper Rhys Oakley returned to the side in the second row where he was joined by Dan Williams, who replaced the injured Brett Beukeboom.
In the back row Albion gave a debut to New Zealander Romana Graham who joined the club on loan from Exeter Chiefs during the week.
Munster A were without back rower Tommy O’Donnell who had been promoted to the senior squad and wing Luke O’Dea who broke his thumb at Brickfields.
Munster who knew they had win the game to keep their interest in the B & I Cup alive took and early lead when fly half Johnny Holland slotted a penalty in the fifth minute.
It took Albion just a minute to level matters when fly half Dan Mugford kicked a penalty given for offside.
Albion then got their noses in front when Mugford put over a second penalty, which was answered mid way through the first half by a similar effort from Holland which tied the scores at 6-6.
Munster took the lead for the first time in the game when full back Ronan O’Mahony crossed after taking a pass from centre Niall Kenneally.
Holland added the extras to send Munster into the interval leading 13-6.
A third penalty from Holland stretched the home lead to 10 points but Albion replied when Declan Cusack, playing against his former club, kicked a three pointer after replacing the injured Mugford.
The crucial moment in the game came in the 75th minute when referee Evans carded Fairbrother and Munster took full advantage of the extra man.
With a minute to go Munster denied Albion the losing bonus point when No 8 C J Stander powered over from a 5 metre scrum and Holland concluded the scoring with the conversion.
Next up for Albion is the eagerly awaited Boxing Day clash with the Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field.
Munster A: R O’Mahony, D Sweetnam, C Bohane, N Kenneally (D Goggin 75), A Wootton, J Holland, G Hurley (B Haugh 79), A Cotter (B Scott 40), N Scannell capt, J Ryan, I Nagle, B Holland, D O’Callaghan (S Buckley 75), B O’Mahony (S Buckley 4-12), C J Stander reps not used M Abbott, D O’Shea, R Scannell
Tries: R O’Mahony, Stander
Cons: Holland 2
Pens: Holland 3
Plymouth Albion: B Woods, L Warner (C Elder 58), H Stevens, P Nonu (T Howley-Berridge 47), J Davies (D Morton 77), D Mugford (D Cusack 37), R Cushion, T Harrison (B Rogers 58), M Crumpton, L Fairbrother, D Williams (R Langley 60), R Oakley capt, H Stupple, S Matavesi, R Graham rep not used G Evans
Pens: Mugford 2, Cusack
Yellow card: Fairbrother
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)