London Welsh 40 Plymouth Albion 9
Saturday 28th September 2013
With no disrespect to Jersey and Moseley, Albion supporters knew that the visit to London Welsh was going to be the clubs first real test of the season.
Albion went into the game sitting in third position in the Championship table, one place below Welsh who had won their first two matches.
In perfect playing conditions Albion were more than a match for Welsh in the first half and if some midfields breaks had had better support the visitors could well have been ahead at the break.
Welsh led 16-9 at the break but it was a completely different story in the second half.
The Welsh win was built around a pack of forwards who were totally dominant in the second half with each member of the back row crossing for tries.
Albion cause wasn’t helped by having Sean-Michael Stephen and Ien Ascroft-Leigh yellow carded in the second half, which took the title of cards to five in the first three matches.
Albion head coach James Shanahan reflecting on the defeat said, “In the first half we played pretty well but when Welsh emptied their bench in the second half we struggled.
“Welsh have one of the best packs in the league and their power told in the end. The players are disappointed but I can’t fault them as they worked as hard as they could.”
Shanahan added, “We don’t seem to be getting the rub of the green from referees this season. I’m not criticising but all I’m asking for is consistency.”
Shanahan made eight changes, three of them positional, to the team that drew 34 all with Moseley last weekend.
Lock Dan Williams, who signed for Albion during the week, came straight into the starting line up while prop Tom Harrison also made his league debut for the club.
Dave Morton switched from loose head to tight head prop while skipper Rhys Oakley moved back to number 8.
Sean-Michael Stephen moved across to blind side flanker, while Rob Langley made a first league start for Albion in the back row.
Gareth Evans, who played for London Welsh last season, had to make do with a place on the bench with Davy McGregor handed the starting jersey.
In the backs the experienced Pale Nonu returned at centre with Heath Stevens dropping to the bench.
Albion took the lead through a Dan Mugford penalty that was answered by one from Welsh fly half Gordon Ross.
Welsh wing Seb Stegmann then created his sides first try that was scored by ex Albion flanker Mike Denbee.
Mugford reduced the deficit with a second penalty and then the fly half saw his third kick rebound off an upright, his first miss of the season.
Ross added two more penalties while Albion full back Chris Elder slotted a monster kick from five metres inside his own half.
Welsh flanker Dan Browne opened the second half scoring with a close range try to which Ross added the extras.
Ross who finished with a 100% kicking record added a penalty for a 26-9 lead.
Albion were then reduced to 14 when Stephen was yellow carded for taking out a man at a line out.
From the resultant scrum referee Campbell awarded Welsh a penalty try, which made the conversion a formality for Ross.
Things got worse for Albion when Ascroft-Leigh was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on a couple of minutes after coming on as a replacement.
Welsh took full advantage and from another 5 metre scrum No 8 Ollie Stedman walked over for the bonus point try that Ross converted.
London Welsh: S Jewell, N Scott, J Lewis, T May capt (D Mama 76), S Stegmann, G Ross, O Frost (A Davies 54), J Tideswell (B Moss 54), N Morris (A Titterell 52), C Griffiths (P Edwards 45), M Corker (B West 61), P Browne (C Kirwan 76), D Browne, M Denbee
Tries: Denbee, D Browne, Penalty try, Stedman
Cons: Ross 4
Pens: Ross 4
Plymouth Albion: C Elder, T Bowen, T Howley-Berridge, P Nonu (H Stevens 55), B Woods, D Mugford (J Shanahan 73), R Cushion (P Rowley 66), T Harrison (B Rogers 48), D McGregor (G Evans 24), D Morton (M Shields 59), B Beukeboom, D Williams (I Ascroft-Leigh 66), S-M Stephen, R Langley, R Oakley
Pens: Mugford 2, Elder
Yellow cards: Stephen, Ascroft-Leigh
Referee Ross Campbell (RFU)