British & Irish Cup pool 4
Plymouth Albion 17 Munster A 7
Friday 6th December 2013
Plymouth Albion gave a larger than expected crowd of 1,473 an early Christmas present by beating Munster A under the Brickfields floodlights.
After three successive league defeats this victory was crucial to Albion and enabled them to maintain their position as pool 4 leaders in this seasons British & Irish Cup.
The victory, only the second at home for Albion this season, was much needed but just as important for them was preventing Munster from getting anything out of the game.
In a ideal world Albion would have wanted the try scoring bonus point themselves but they would have settled for this result at the start of the match.
The win, which was easier than the final scoreline suggests, sets Albion up nicely for the return match, which is being played in Waterford next Friday evening.
If Albion can get something out of the game in Ireland they will be favourites to top the pool and for the first time in the five years of the B & I Cup move into the knock out stages.
A relieved Albion head coach James Shanahan said, “As we hadn’t won for a couple of weeks we looked tentative and were nervous. Tonight was all about winning and I would describe our performance as workmanlike,
“We played some good rugby, scored two good tries and could easily have had a couple more.
“With Munster not getting anything from the game it means they will be under more pressure than us when we play them next week.”
The one disappointment for Albion was the sight of hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie limping off after damaging the knee that has kept him side lined for most of this season.
Albion made five changes, one of them positional, from the team beaten at home by Rotherham Titans the previous weekend.
In the backs Irishman Ben Woods came in at full back with Chris Elder dropping to the bench.
Experienced centre Pale Nonu returned having recovered from a head injury and in the front row dual registered hooker Cowan-Dickie made his first start of the season.
In the back row Herbie Stupple moved across to No 8 with Sam Matavesi, who last weekend played for Fiji against the Barbarians, claiming the number 7 shirt.
In perfect playing conditions Albion had a chance to take an early lead when Munster were offside in midfield but fly half Dan Mugford was wide with his 43 metre penalty kick.
Mugford made amends shortly afterwards when he kicked a penalty from in front of the posts, again given for offside.
Albion scored an excellent opening try in the 26th minute when neat inter passing near the left touchline ended with Sean-Michael Stephen giving fellow flanker Matavesi a clear run to the try line.
Mugford took Albion into double figures when he added the conversion.
On a rare visit to Albion’s 22 Munster opened their account when impressive left wing Ronan O’Mahony scored under the posts and fly half Johnny Holland added the extras.
In first half stoppage time Albion created another good try scoring opportunity but left wing Jamie Davies knocked on as he attempted to touchdown.
Early in the second half Munster were reduced to 14 when lock Ian Nagle was yellow carded and while he was off the field Albion scored their second try.
A good pass over the top from Stupple gave right wing Tom Bowen the space to sprint over for his tenth try of the season, which replacement Declan Cusack converted.
Albion spent most of the last quarter of the game deep in Munster territory but were unable to add to the total and there was relief around the ground when referee McPhail blew the final whistle.
Plymouth Albion: B Woods, T Bowen, H Stevens, P Nonu (T Howley-Berridge 64), J Davies, D Mugford (D Cusack 53), R Cushion capt, T Harrison (B Rogers 53), L Cowan-Dickie (M Crumpton 40), L Fairbrother, I Ascroft-Leigh (D Williams 40), B Beukeboom, S-M Stephen, S Matavesi, H Stupple rep not used C Elder
Tries: Matavesi, Bowen
Cons: Mugford, Cusack
Munster A: R Scannell, L O’Dea (N Kenneally 72), C Bohane, I Dineen, R O’Mahony, J Holland, D Williams (G Hurley 80), A Cotter (B Scott 75), N Scannell capt, J Ryan, D Foley (D O’Shea 64), I Nagle, D O’Callaghan, R Murphy (T O’Donnell 52), S Buckley reps not used M Abbott, A Wootton
Yellow card: Nagle
Referee: James McPhail (SRU)