Brickfields was treated a fantastic show of rugby Saturday as Plymouth Albion put in a nine try haul to bully past mid-table Rosslyn Park in National League One.
The win was Albion’s biggest since defeating Fylde way back in September, and if it weren’t for some handling errors, Albion’s score line could have been 20 points more.
Ignoring the lopsided score line, things were tight at the half between the two sides, but Albion’s continued fast-paced game-plan out played Rosslyn Park’s battered squad.
Back in the stands after two weeks of player duty, head coach Kieran Hallett, was full of praise for the effort displayed by his team.
He said: “The guys were outstanding today. We know Rosslyn Park had a few numbers down and we were under no illusions they were weaker than they’d normally be, but you can only beat who’s in front of you.
“Some of our attack play in the second half was outstanding, but I think we got a little ahead of ourselves in the first half trying to do a little bit too much.”
Overthinking the game proved costly to Albion, who allowed their visitors to score three tries from five trips into their half during the first, a factor Hallett addressed at half time, he said:
“We spoke about their off-load game, after we went up they started throwing everything at us, so we just highlighted the fact we need to be mindful of our tackle assists, making sure we’d checked off the off-load.”
Hallett was happy with his sides adjustments in the second half though, he went on to say:
“That defensive set we put in inside our 22 there at the end summed us up as a group really.
“In a game where there’s not a whole lot on the line so far up, to keep coming off the line, to keep putting shots in, and to stay mentally focused, I think was fantastic for us.”
First to strike were Albion after just four minutes. Celebrating his 50th appearance, Dean Squire was there to collect a quick pass from a lagging Herbie Stupple, who plucked the ball from Rosslyn Park’s grasp at halfway. The bounding forward looked set to score but opted to set up his wing, to add icing to the days celebrations.
After a Matthew Shepherd conversion, Albion began to take charge, out in front by seven. Rosslyn Park weren’t allowed to breath as the pressure was applied from the heart of the line, which converted into lost possessions, with the ball regularly being jarred out from big Albion tackles.
Tired of being bullied around the pitch, Rosslyn Park showed grit to drive their way into Albion’s 22 for the first time, but every phase was shut down with the white of Albion blotting out any ball carrying attempts.
Albion quickly replied to swing play straight back down the pitch to score the side’s second try of the half. Full back Matthew Shepherd beat his tackler at the half to run unmatched deep into Rosslyn Park territory. Before succumbing to his pursuit, a smart kick was played forward for Cam Setter to collect, and pass onto Harrison Cully. A second easy conversion was added to extend Albion’s strong first half stance to 14.
Rosslyn park showed their pace from the kick though, to half the deficit immediately. Ben Marfo showed brilliant individual effort to shrug off Albion’s two tier defence, and head for the corner. With valiant chase, Marfo was tackled down but released the ball to his centres to complete the swift drive, Huw Morgan grounding the ball.
Attempting to get the ball around Albion’s blanket defence, Rosslyn Park would fall back on ambitious passing which often found itself back in their hosts hands, with the ball missing its desired target.
Albion would hold strong possession and positioning for 10 minutes, but with little to show for their efforts after their set piece game failed to convert.
Another strong individual try down Albion’s right flank brought the visitors even just shy of the half. This time around, substitute Charles Amesbury outran Albion’s line, side stepping his away over for the score, but the hosts once again showed their top 5 class to reply with a converted try of their own, with the final play of the half, courtesy of Jordan Gott.
The second half would descend into a track meet for Albion, who outgunned their counterparts in all phases of the game to blow the score line wide open with six tries in the final 40 minutes.
Quick play mixed with colder legs produced some mistakes and excitement, but Albion, as in the first half, made use of any turnover ball given.
Albion’s power play eventually rolled over the visitors as the side began to tighten up on any earlier ball handling errors. The backline was finally released once again to run with near freedom through Rosslyn Park’s line.
The first 15 minutes of the half saw the visitors receive a schooling in the art of quick back play, as Albion pummelled home three tries in quick succession. Gott would score the first straight out the gates, to secure the bonus point, then set up the side’s second, using fancy footwork to bamboozle the visitors, before a quick offload to Robbie Weeks. The third would come home in the 56th minute as James Salter dropped to score from a textbook Albion maul.
Both sides began to play sound rugby, which allowed long phases of the game to go on without referee intervention. Albion were clearly weary of their own scrum though which, for the second week in a row, caused trouble and any penalties were kicked for the corner to the bewilderment of their visitors.
This continued aggression would reward Albion with another three tries in the last 10 minutes. Weeks would pad his stats with another two to win a hat-trick, whilst Shepherd would go over himself after collecting his own well-timed through ball.
Jordan Gott was the deserved winner of the man of the match, but skipper Herbie Stupple’s performance couldn’t be over looked, as his input directly set up at least four of his teammates’ tries, whether that was from the two steals, or his drives through the defence, it seemed Stupple had a hand in every point on the board.
Understandably shell shocked by Albion’s play, Rosslyn Park could do little except wait for the final whistle to blow.
Albion will return to Brickfields for their season finale next week against Loughborough Students in a re-arranged matchup.
15 Matthew Shepherd, 14 Jordan Gott, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Robbie Weeks, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 William Norton, 2 James Salter, 3 Daniel Pullinger, 4 Lewis Pearson, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 26 Daniel Williams, 7 Flynn Elworthy, 8 Herbie Stupple (C)
16, Jack Innard, 17 Luke Chapman, 18 Benjamin Phillips, 21 Luke Flack, 20 Joe Snow
15 Oliver Millner, 14 Rhys Crane, 13 Daniel Barnes, 12 Huw Morgan, 11 Benjamin Marfo, 10 Jack Gash, 1 Alistair Wade, 2 Adam Bellamy, 3 Nicholas Lovell, 4 Nathan Higgins, 5 James Gray, 6 Thomas Vaughan-Edwards, 7 Owen Hughes, 8 Michael Macfarlane
17 Oliver Smith, 19 William Crow, 20 Charles Amesbury
Albion: 9 (Weeks 3, Gott 2, Squire, Cully, Salter, Shepherd)
Rosslyn Park: 2 (Morgan, Amesbury)
Albion: 4 (Shepherd)
Rosslyn Park: 2 (Millner)
Man of the Match: Jordan Gott
Referee: Ben Russell