Plymouth Albion v Jersey Match Report

Plymouth Albion 23 Jersey 30

Saturday 15 March 2014

Expectation was high amongst Albion supporters before the game with the club on a bit of a roll having won their previous two Championship matches.

With next to bottom Jersey, a side Albion have already beaten twice this season, visiting Brickfields hopes were high for a home victory that would see Plymouth start to challenge the Cornish Pirates for sixth spot in the table.

On the day Albion under performed but it was a different story for Jersey who thoroughly deserved their victory which now gives them a good chance of playing Championship rugby next season.

As well as disappointment on the pitch there was also disappointment off the pitch with just 1.036 turning up to watch the game.

This was by far the lowest crowd for a league game since Albion moved to Brickfields over ten years ago.

A clearly disappointed Plymouth head coach James Shanahan said, “That has to be one of our worst performances of the season. We allowed Jersey to dominate all the collisions and breakdowns and we showed no desire until the game was lost.

“Credit must go to Jersey who had energy and physicality and they thoroughly deserved their victory.

“In terms of a sunny day and a firm pitch we had everything in our favour today but in the end we were lucky to get the losing bonus point.”

Albion made two changes to the side that had a fine 33-18 win at Bedford Blues.

Dan Mugford, who missed the Bedford game with a calf injury, returned at full back with Chris Elder dropping to the bench.

The other change to the starting XV was in the front row where the experienced Martin Rice comes in at loose head prop for Tom Harrison who was named as a replacement.

Playing with the breeze behind them Jersey took the lead when fly half Aaron Penberthy kicked a 35 metre penalty after Albion were penalised for not rolling away.

Penberthy then missed a chance to double the lead but his penalty kick from inside his own half fell short of the target.

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Albion fly half Declan Cusack missed a chance to level matters when his missed a simple penalty from almost in front of the posts.

A good drive by Albion skipper Rhys Oakley led to Jersey full back Jack Burroughs being yellow carded for a professional foul.

Instead of Albion taking advantage of the extra man it was Jersey who added points when down to 14.

Penberthy kicked two penalties both given against Albion prop Martin Rice to stretch the visitors lead to 9-3.

Shortly before half time Albion went down to 14 when No 8 Sean-Michael Stephen was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul.

Jersey declined the kick at goal and put the ball into the corner.

Albion held the catch and drive but when the ball was recycled lock James Voss went over in the clubhouse corner.

Penberthy added a fine conversion from the touchline, which sent Jersey in the interval leading 16-3.

Shanahan clearly gave his side a wake up call at half time and Albion quickly got three points back through a Cusack penalty when Jersey flanker Ryan Hodson was penalised at a ruck.

On the hour mark Cusack intercepted a loose Jersey pass and sprinted in from half way for a try he converted.

That was a good as it got for Albion as Jersey regrouped and added further tries from centre Mark McCrea and replacement Ben Maidment.

Former Cornish Pirate Penberthy, who finished with a personal tally of 15 points, converted both tries.

With the game lost Albion started to put together some phases of play and got a second try when flanker Rob Langley powered over in the corner.

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Deep in injury time Albion got their bonus point when Gareth Evans went in on the overlap for his first try of the season.

Next up for Albion is a difficult looking trip to high flying Rotherham Titans next Saturday.

Plymouth Albion: D Mugford, T Bowen, T Howley-Berridge, H Stevens (P Nonu 57), L Warner (C Elder 73), D Cusack, P Rowley (R Bolt 71), M Rice (T Harrison 77), G Evans, L Fairbrother (D Morton 75), H Tovey (I Ascroft-Leigh 77), R Oakley capt, R Langley, E Grace (D McGregor 77), S-M Stephen

Tries: Cusack, Langley, Evans

Con: Cusack

Pens: Cusack 2

Yellow card: Stephen

Jersey: J Burroughs, E Dawson (D Bishop 56), D Locke, M McCrea, M Foster, A Penberthy, J Dudley (J Williams 56), S McCarthy (S Lockwood 69), E Taione (L Stratford 80), D Young (N Selway 61), D Markham (B Maidment 63), J Voss, A Rae capt, R Hosdon (J Buckle 56), L Makaafi

Tries: Voss, McCrea, Maidment

Cons: Penberthy 3

Pens: Penberthy 3

Yellow card: Burroughs

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys(RFU)

Attendance: 1,036