Plymouth Albion 21 Caldy 16

Harvey Skinner of Plymouth Albion celebrates the try during the National Division 1 match between Plymouth Albion v Caldy at the Brickfields Recreation Ground, on February 3rd 2018, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Robert Tunley at Brickfields

Plymouth Albion came just shy of a crucial bonus point this weekend, as the side played their first home game in seven weeks, against Caldy, in their National League One match at Brickfields.

Head Coach, Kieran Hallett, was pleased his side were finally able to get some momentum, he said: “I’m pretty happy we’ve come away with a win, we spoke throughout the week about performance taking a backseat today, and focusing on getting ourselves a little momentum in our season again and we’ve achieved that.”

“In the first half I thought we controlled conditions very well playing into the wind, we spent the majority of the half within their 22 which was a real positive.

“The second half dipped off a little bit, we may have got carried away with ourselves after scoring the try, maybe then we should have gone back to playing a bit more for territory, ultimately we should have had a bonus point at the end.”

Unfortunate game cancellations plagued Albion during January and the side were left with a loss in their most recent game. Understandably, Hallett was pleased to see in February saying: “Yeah, it’s good to get it (January) out of the way, it’s been difficult, it’s been frustrating, but we have to use that as energy going forward to pick ourselves up and keep going.”

“We were better than last week, and the only thing we can really control is that we’re better again next week, and by doing that we can hopefully gain more momentum.”

The game also marked the home return of crowd favourite Herbie Stupple, as the number 8 got valuable playing time for a second week, after suffering a slipped disk, three months ago.

Despite limited time off the bench in the second half, Stupple was excited to be back saying: “It’s good to be back in front of the crowd, everyone loves playing at the home games and there’s a bit more of a buzz that comes with it, compared to these away slogging ones we have to do.”

“Massive credit to all the boys and the defensive display they put out, it’s not till you’re part of it that you see everyone working for each other especially in these conditions, it’s a real positive.”

Building on his progress, Stupple couldn’t help but look forward to the near future: “I want to get a start in at some stage, and I think by the time I get that start I’ll be ready and roaring to go.”

Despite the poor playing conditions, the Plymothian side held a dominant grip on the game both in possession, and field positioning.

Albion were quick to go down two scores early though. A penalty was soon followed by a converted Delwyn Jones try, as three Albion players missed tackles to allow the score and 10-point Caldy lead.

Albion weren’t shocked by being down though as they immediately went on the counter attack. An Albion maul was held short of the try line for a couple of minutes before Sam Daley slugged through the mud to score.

Three minutes later, the crowd got enjoy the try of the game. Dan Mugford received a quick pass from another well executed lineout. With ball in hand, and at full sprint, Mugford took advantage of the absent full-back, kicking with precision from his right boot to put the tumbling ball through Caldy’s legs. Harvey Skinner was there to get amongst the line at speed, and after a couple of knocks to himself, was able touchdown between the uprights for Mugford to convert his second of three on the game.

Albion continued to enjoy possession on the ball for the remainder of the first half which only saw another penalty kick from Caldy’s Ben Jones add to the score line.

The second half saw Albion sport their green away jerseys, as the mud made distinguishing player from player difficult for referee Dan Parrott.

The half was made up of handling errors and missed chances, punctuated with a final try from Albion’s prop, Dan Pullinger.

Neither team seemed to push hard until the final ten minutes which saw a flurry of activity from both sides trying to gain a bonus point.

Albion came closest to their fourth try when Matt Crosscombe charged for the line, but found himself knocked out of play by a jarring tackle.

Caldy found a little more luck in the waning seconds, kicking a penalty to bring themselves within seven points of Albion for their consolation point.

Albion now face the tough prospect of playing 12 weeks in a row to make up for games missed over January, a task undaunting to Stupple who said: “We’ve got to get through these tough couple of months, once we get into the rhythm of things again we start seeing how we play together again.

“It’s hard building that consistency because of all these cancellations, but it’ll start to fall into place again and we’ll be flying.”

Plymouth Albion:

15 Matthew Shepherd, 14 Mathew Crosscombe, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Harvey Skinner, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Daniel Mugford, 9 Joe Snow, 1 Luke Chapman, 2 Rupert Freestone, 3 Daniel Pullinger, 4 Samuel Holmes, 5 John Kelly, 6 George Mills, 7 Sam Daly, 8 Eoghan Grace

Replacements: (All used)

16 Joel Armitage, 18 James Salter, 24 Michael Stupple, 21 Jordan Gott, 22 Cameron Setter

Caldy:

15 Luke Hibberd, 14 Nicholas Royle, 13 Joseph Doyle, 12 Delwyn Jones, 11 Thomas Banks, 10 Rhys Hayes, 9 Benjamin Jones, 1 John Parker, 2 Oliver Hearn, 3 Derek Salisbury, 4 John Collister, 5 Thomas Sanders, 6 Harrison Crowe, 7 Nyle Davidson, 8 Josiah Dickinson

Replacements: (All used)

16 John Whittaker, 17 Stuart Cross, 18 John Weir, 21 Carl Southan, 24 Martin Gerrard

Tries:

Albion: 3 (Daly, Skinner,Pullinger)

Caldy: 1 (D.Jones)

Conversions:

Albion: 3 (Mugford)

Caldy: 1 (B.Jones)

Penalties:

Albion: 0

Caldy: 2 (B.Jones)

Cards: 0

Attendance: 754

Referee: Dan Parrott

Man of the match: Sam Daly