Plymouth Albion 31 Bristol Rugby 38
Saturday 2nd November 2013
Was this a game that Albion lost rather than Bristol won? According to Albion head coach James Shanahan it was and he was supported by a number of Albion supporters.
In the first half Albion playing into a strong breeze played some superb rugby and by the half hour they led 21-5.
A potentially healthy half time lead was reduced to just two points when Bristol scored 14 unanswered points after winger Jack Arnott was yellow carded for a professional foul.
With the wind behind them in the second Albion came out of the blocks flying and when man of the match right wing Tom Bowen completed his hat trick Albion led 28-19, and a home win looked the most likely result.
Bristol like Albion played much better in to wind and gradually worked their way back into the game.
It took high flying Bristol until the 68th minute to get their noses in front but Albion refused to lie down and ended the game with two bonus points.
Despite still not winning a home league game Albion moved up to sixth in the championship table.
A clearly disappointed Shanahan said, “We should have won that game. In the second half we didn’t execute the game plan we talked about at half time.
“We are a new team but we have got to learn quicker. At home to Moseley, London Scottish and now Bristol we have thrown away 8 points which would have put us in the top four.
“You have to give credit to Bristol for the way they came back at us. Bristol are a Premiership club playing in the Championship.”
Bristol director of rugby Andy Robinson said, “I was really pleased with the way we came back in the second half. The way we kept the ball was outstanding but credit must go to Plymouth.
“In the first 20 minutes Plymouth knocked us off our game and they defended very well.”
Albion made two changes from the side that recorded an excellent win in Jersey the previous weekend.
Top points scorer Dan Mugford, who was forced off with a shoulder injury in Jersey, failed to recover in time and his place in the starting line up was taken by Declan Cusack.
The other change was at scrum half where Paul Rowley came in for club captain Ruairi Cushion who was also picked up an injury in Jersey.
Former prop Martin Rice, who resigned for Albion in the week was named on the bench.
Bristol made seven changes to the side that beat Nottingham last weekend.
Jack Tovey came in at full back to make his first start of the season, while fly half Nicky Robinson made his first league start for the visitors.
Up front former Scottish international prop Bruce Douglas came in for the injured James Hall.
Albion raced into a 14-0 lead when wingers Tom Bowen and Arnott both went in on the overlap with Cusack landing the two conversions.
After declining a relatively simple kick at goal Bristol got the first of their six tries when No 8 Ben Skirving picked off an Albion line out and powered over in the corner.
Albion replied in style when Bowen intercepted a loose Bristol pass on half way and sprinted in for his second try which Cusack converted.
Arnott was sent to the sin bin by referee Rose for a professional foul and within two minutes Bristol right wing George Watkins had run in two tries, both of which Robinson converted.
Albion led 21-19 at half time and stretched their advantage to nine points shortly after the interval.
Canadian flanker Sean – Michael Stephen intercepted on half way before off loading to the supporting Bowen who went over unopposed to complete his hat trick.
Cusack converted but then missed a 35 metre penalty given for offside.
Both teams emptied their benches, which was the cue for Bristol to put Albion under pressure.
Robinson got the visitors bonus point try which he converted before Watkins became the second player in the match to notch a hat trick.
Replacement Bryan Rennie got try number six before Albion were awarded a penalty deep into injury time.
Full back Chris Elder, taking over the kicking duties from Cusack, confidently slotted the 35 metre kick to secure the second bonus point which moved Albion up to sixth in the table.
Plymouth Albion: C Elder, T Bowen, B Woods (H Stevens 58), T Howley-Berridge, J Arnott, D Cusack (J Shanahan 73), P Rowley, B Rogers (M Rice 73), M Crumpton (G Evans 80), D Morton, D Williams (H Tovey 65), I Ascroft-Leigh, S-M Stephen, R Langley (E Grace 76), R Oakley capt rep not used C Setter
Tries: Bowen 3, Arnott
Cons: Cusack 4
Yellow card: Arnott
Bristol Rugby: J Tovey, G Watkins, A Short (B Rennie 53), B Mosses (T Roberts 80), R Edwards, N Robinson, J Grindall (R Tipuna 46), K Traynor (M Lilley 80), O Hayes,(R Johnston 46) B Douglas, G Townson, M Sorenson capt, I Grieve (M Mama 49), J Merriman (M Eadie 76), B Skirving
Tries: Skirving, Watkins 3, Robinson, Rennie
Cons: Robinson 4
Referee David Rose (RFU)