Plymouth Albion 34 Darlington Mowden Park 19

Matt Crosscombe of Plymouth Albion dives for the line during the National Division 1 match between Plymouth Albion v Darlington Mowden Park at the Brickfields Recreation Ground, on February 17th 2018, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Plymouth Albion put to bed their poor away form to reign triumphant over second placed Darlington Mowden Park, in a crucial clash of National League One forces, Saturday at Brickfields.

Fresh off yet another away loss, Head Coach, Kieran Hallett, couldn’t help but be overjoyed at his sides win, he said:

“I think that performance has been coming, our performance last week was good just without the result, we knew we had that in us.

“On an individual level, everyone stood up and played very well, you’d struggle to find anyone who had a bad game there, against the second placed side in the league, we’ve dominated since the first minute.”

Despite the lopsided final score, things were close coming out of the half, until Ed Holmes broke the tough Darlington Mowden Park (DMP) defence to swing momentum back to Albion. Hallett was certain the passage of play proved to be the winning stroke for his side, adding:

“I think that period when we went through multiple phases on their line was a key period, if we didn’t convert that, the game would have been in the balance.

“After we scored they capitulated, it was the turning point in the game, after that we kicked on and scored a few more.”

After another solid performance on the wing for Albion, Matt Crosscombe agreed the try was important in the side’s victory, he said:

“Phase after phase we began to break them, we just proved too physical for them, the more we did, the more holes opened up, so with patience it comes.”

Crosscombe also found himself crossing the line in the first half, and relished the support from the Albion faithful. He said:

“This place is a hard place to come to, in front of our crowd.

“I love playing at home, this crowd is the best crowd in the league, I mean we’re unbeaten here, so the markers been set.”

The fast-paced half began with almost complete dominance from Albion, who held the ball exclusively in the first 10 minutes.

Similar to Albion’s last three outings, the team might have held the ball, but little could be done with it. DMP’s defence was playing strong and multiple runs were repelled with strong tackling.

With the side’s second sniff at the ball, DMP put points away, kicking the ball through Albion’s line. Matt Shepherd made a great tackle a few metres short of the posts, but the ball was quickly recovered and a pop-pass to Adam Brocklebank saw DMP scoring before Albion could form their defence. The kick was converted by Warren Seals to put the home side down seven after 11 minutes.

DMP were by far the most paced team Albion have had to face through the season so far, and the side enjoyed strong runs around the corners which, if it wasn’t for some fantastic try saving tackles from Crosscombe, would have resulted in a further two tries.

Both sides fought on like goliaths until Albion could finally reply with a try of their own. Crosscombe received a looping ball and charged into the corner to level the score into the half.

After a low scoring affair in the first half, the game really opened up in the second. Taking advantage of a DMP yellow card for Dave Fisher, Albion came out and scored, with Setareki Raumakita pacing through.

DMP would reply immediately, as Garry Law side stepped his way through tacklers at the other end for a good individual try.

The swing of momentum found its way back the home side though, and wouldn’t go back for DMP the remainder of the afternoon.

The pivotal try came with 15 minutes remaining, after an exhausting passage of play. For the second period in the game, Albion retained possession for 10 minutes, and found themselves in a constant tug of war within five metres of DMP’s line. In what seemed like an endless chain of phases, Albion never gave up, hitting the stout defence, inching towards another score. Just as hope began to fade for the hosts, DMP finally blinked and Holmes came through to score his first from the back of a ruck.

After losing the gruelling battle, DMP’s defence looked broken, never playing with the same intensity again. With confidence and momentum on their side, Albion would hammer home another two tries through Jack Owlett, a second from Holmes, and a penalty off the boot of stand-in fly half Harvey Skinner.

DMP would cross the line once more themselves, but the try served onle as a consolation, and Albion saw out the bonus point game in full charge.

Although still undefeated at home, in over a year, Hallett had to do some soul searching to find an answer to his side’s bad away record. He said:

“I think you have to factor in our travel plans, when we have the early starts it does make life difficult and our energy levels aren’t going to be the same as they are when we leave at five o’clock in the morning, but it’s something we have to deal with and try and get better at, our away form really doesn’t match our home form at the moment.”

Hallett did however look forward to the four home games to played next month, describing them as:

“Our time to catch up.”

Plymouth Albion:

15 Matthew Shepherd, 14 Matthew Crosscombe, 13 Setareki Raumakita, 12 Thomas Gilbert-Hendrickson, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 Luke Chapman, 2 James Salter, 3 Jack Owlett, 4 Samuel Holmes, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 George Mills, 7 Sam Daly, 8 Daniel Williams

Replacements:

30 Daniel Pullinger-Ham, 16 Rupert Freestone, 18 Daniel Swain, 21 Jordan Gott, 20 Joe Snow

Darlington Mowden Park :

15 Grant Connon, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Benjamin Frankland, 12 Garry Law, 11 Callum Mackenzie, 10 Warren Seals, 9 Brett Connon, 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Christopher Wood, 3 Ralph Appleby, 4 Jacob Brady, 5 Talite Vaioleti, 6 David Fisher, 7 Joe Craggs, 8 Oliver Hodgson

Replacements:

16 Alfie Barron, 17 Daniel Preston-Routledge, 18 Simon Uzokwe, 19 Shaun Mccartney, 20 Cameron Cowell

Tries:

Albion: 5 (Crosscombe, Raumakita, Owlett, Holmes 2)

DMP: 3 (Brocklebank, Law, Frankland)

Conversions:

Albion: 3 (Skinner)

DMP: 2 (Seals)

Penalties:

Albion: 1 (Skinner)

Cards:

Yellow-

Albion: 0

DMP: 1 (Fisher 40’)

Red- 0

Attendance: 906

Man of the Match: Thomas Gilbert-Hendrickson

Referee: Gareth Holsgrove