by Nick Burt
Plymouth Albion returned to winning ways with a fine 43-10 victory over Esher at The Brickfields. A try count of 7 to 1 ensured the team will travel to Bishop’s Stortford next weekend with great confidence.
Plymouth Albion Director of Rugby Nigel Sparrow said: “I felt it was good to get the early tries on the board before half time as it set up a great platform to deliver our attacking threat in the second half.”
The match was played at a fast pace from the outset. Both teams squandered early possession with unforced errors and the first scrum was awarded to Esher after just 2 minutes. The Surrey team took the lead after 7 minutes when Albion were penalised for coming in at the side and fly half James Brooks easily kicked the three points.
On 12 minutes a quick ball from a breakdown midway into the Esher half enabled Matt Shepherd to release speedy Jack Arnott. He was tackled just short of the line but managed to flip the ball back inside to Shepherd who skipped over for the first try.
Sustained pressure from the Albion forwards then followed. A well rehearsed catch and drive allowed Rupert Freestone to crash over on 18 mins. Good interplay between Harvey Skinner and Matt Crosscombe released Dean Squire who chased his own kick but was just beaten to the touchdown by Esher right wing Kariym Irving. Two minutes later, the Esher player was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on, the first of three yellow cards they were to suffer during the course of the match.
On 28 minutes, Brooks missed a relatively straight forward penalty attempt and Esher were subsequently penalised for wheeling the scrum. Dan Mugford kicked for the corner and the developing maul moved infield, only for the ball to be held up over the line. From the scrum, Mugford took a delightful angle to receive a short pass and score a try under the posts which he then converted.
Albion continued to pile on the pressure. An error in midfield by Esher’s Joseph Brown gave the ball back to the rampaging Albion forwards. An attack down the left wing saw Dan Pullinger gather the ball and, to the delight of the crowd, crash through a weak tackle to score in the corner.
Half time score Albion 24 Esher 3.
Soon after the restart some poor Albion defence at the base of a ruck allowed Esher’s Kariym Irving to brush trough some weak tackling and go in unopposed from 40 metres out. Brooks converted to make the score 24-10. For a while, Esher upped the tempo and clawed their way over for what seemed like a certain try, only to be penalised for a double movement.
From the 22 drop out the ball was gathered by Eoghan Grace who raced down the left touchline and fed inside to Jack Arnott who knocked the ball forward with the line at his mercy!
Mugford left the pitch with a serious blood injury to be replaced by Setareki Raumakita. A second yellow card for Esher resulted in another good field position enabling Rupert Freestone to be driven over for his second try. The one man advantage played into Albion’s hands. A scrum near the Esher line, after they were forced to carry it over, allowed Herbie Stupple to score, with Mugford adding the extras.
Unbelievably, Esher received a third yellow card on 70 mins for killing the ball on the ground. Albion ran the ball and Matt Shepherd gathered a long pass out on the wing to score unopposed in the corner, with Mugford converting well from the touchline to make the final score 43-10.
After the match, Albion Captain Herbie Stupple was full of praise for his team. He said, “We were good from the start and had an intent and a tempo that they (Esher) couldn’t live with. Getting the early tries lifted the spirits.” He added “We made a few mistakes in the beginning but our defence worked so well that they couldn’t really move. It was a top performance.”
Plymouth Albion: M Shepherd, M Crosscombe (S Raumakita) D Squire(C Setter), H Skinner, J Arnott, D Mugford, J Snow, H Stupple, G Mills(S Daly), E Grace, D Swain, D Collier, D Pullinger, R Freestone(J Salter), W Norton (M Street)
Tries:M Shepherd (2), R Freestone (2), D Mugford, D Pullinger, H Stupple
Con:D Mugford (3) M Shepherd (1)
Esher: L Davies, K Irving( G Bvuma , J Brown (capt), S Sutherland, C Monks, J Brooks, T Trotter, A Bone, C Gossington, C Gentles, O Marriott, L Edwards H Seccombe ), C Zeiss (C Leigh), C O’Connell( B Harding)
, E Cudworth
Yellow card:K Irving, C Monks, C Arnold
Referee: Calum Howard