Plymouth Albion 16 Bedford Blues 27
Friday 22nd November 2013
With Bedford Blues struggling near the foot of the Championship table most Albion fans saw this game as a good chance to get their season back onto a winning track.
After a very much below par performance from Albion it was Bedford who gained a thoroughly deserved win and left the Albion coaching team with plenty to think about.
On a good night for watching rugby, the crowd that turned out at Brickfields was again disappointing with many leaving before the end.
It was at was at this stage last season that Albion started a long losing run and head coach James Shanahan and has team have a lot of work to do after consecutive Championship losses.
Shanahan apologised to the fans after the game saying, “I feel sorry for our supporters who have paid good money to watch the game. I would like to apologise to them as we simply weren’t good enough tonight.
“We aren’t playing the type of rugby that I want us to play and we were well beaten tonight. Although Bedford have had a tough start to their season we didn’t take them lightly but some of the players need to start earning the shirt again.
“At half time we were 13-3 up and hadn’t really done much but for 20 minutes in the second half we just went through the motions.”
Shanahan concluded by saying, “There will be changes when we play Rotherham next week.”
Following the disappointing defeat at Nottingham the previous weekend, Shanahan made three changes to his starting line up.
Dual registered winger Jack Arnott came in for Lewis Warner, who picked up a shoulder injury at Nottingham.
In the front row Dave Morton who came on as a replacement at Nottingham started, with Ben Rogers dropping down to the bench.
Ien Ascroft- Leigh returned from injury to reclaim his place in the second row.
The match had particular significance for Shanahan who played for Bedford earlier in his career.
In an attempt to halt his sides poor run of results Bedford Director of rugby Mike Rayer made eleven changes to the Blues starting line up.
One familiar name in the Bedford squad was ex Albion lock Ben Gulliver.
Bedford made a good start and they took the lead in the 5th minute when full back Mike Le Bourgeois kicked a penalty from the 22 after Albion were penalised at a ruck.
Plymouth quickly levelled the scores when fly half Declan Cusack slotted a 40 metre penalty after Bedford infringed at a scrum.
Bedford, who have struggled in the set scrum all season, were in trouble again and when penalised for the front row coming up, Cusack put over a second penalty.
To say the scrums from both sides were a mess would be an understatement and the rest of the first half won’t live long in the memory.
Just before half time a great tackle by Albion wing Tom Bowen prevented Blues winger Pat Tapley from scoring and Plymouth were then gifted the games opening try.
Albion then went up to the other end of the field and a loose pass inside his 22 by Bedford fly half Mark Atkinson was seized upon by Bowen, who crossed for his seventh try of the season which Cusack converted.
Le Bourgeois kicked a penalty at the start of the second half before Blues left wing James Short scored a great individual try.
After being put clear Short kicked ahead and won the race to the touchdown with Le Bourgeois adding the extras to tie the scores at 13 all.
A Cusack penalty restored Plymouth’s lead before Atkinson made up for his earlier mistake with an interception try of his own.
Le Bourgeois converted and also improved the Blues final try that, after an intense period of pressure was scored by Tapley.
After emptying their bench Albion played the last 10 minutes with 14 men when Arnott went off with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder.
Albion then went in search of what would have been a consolation losing bonus point but the Blues defence held firm for an unexpected victory.
Plymouth Albion: C Elder, T Bowen (B Woods 61), H Stevens, T Howley-Berridge, J Arnott, D Cusack (J Shanahan 57), P Rowley (R Cushion 53), D Morton (B Rogers 53), G Evans (M Crumpton 53), L Fairbrother (M Rice 70), D Williams, I Ascroft-Leigh, S-M Stephen, R Langley (H Stupple 53), R Oakley capt
Pens: Cusack 3
Bedford Blues: M Le Bourgeois, P Tapley, C Hircock (B Burke 53), O Dodge, J Short, M Atkinson, L Baldwin, D Fearn N Steenkamp 57), C Clare, B Cooper (P Boulton 57), M Howard (B Gulliver 63), P Tupai capt, T Jubb (T Armes 65), M Hankin, N Fenton-Wells reps not used T J Harris, D Veenendaal
Tries: Short, Atkinson, Tapley
Cons: Le Bourgeois 3
Pens: Le Bourgeois 3
Referee Ian Tempest (RFU)