Plymouth Albion 17 Rotherham Titans 28
Friday 29 November 2013
Plymouth Albion went down to their fourth home league defeat of the season when they were beaten by high flying Rotherham Titans under the Brickfields floodlights.
Although both sides scored three tries, Rotherham won more convincingly than the score line suggests and it was only some excellent last ditch tackling from Albion that prevented further Titan scores.
Albion, in front of their lowest league crowd of the season, didn’t help themselves by missing six of their seven kicks at goal.
Goal kicking hasn’t been a problem this season but fit again fly half Dan Mugford missed five out of five while full back Chris Elder was also wide with his single shot at the posts.
Albion really struggled in the line out were also guilty of poor game management in the second half.
When awarded a series of close range penalties Albion first of all tried a catch and drive, then opted for a 5 metre scrum and finally an easy kick at goal all of which produced no points.
Albion now have to wait until January 4th for their next home league game, when Leeds Carnegie visit Brickfields.
Albion head coach James Shanahan reflecting on the showing said, “I’m disappointed because we lacked a lot of accuracy in our game tonight. I’m also frustrated because after a good weeks training the players aren’t playing to their potential.
“Our line out didn’t function which meant we had less ball to work with and on top of that our kickers had a bad day and left 16 points on the field.
Shanahan added, “The performance was an improvement on last week but it is still a loss at home and winning is the most important thing.”
Following last weeks disappointing home performance against Bedford Blues, Albion made seven changes to their starting line up.
In the backs left wing Jamie Davies and Mugford both reclaimed their places having recovered from injury.
Club captain Ruairi Cushion was given the number 9 jersey, with Paul Rowley dropping to the bench.
In the front row there were recalls for prop Tom Harrison and hooker Max Crumpton.
There was a welcome return for second row Brett Beukeboom who had been away on international duty with Canada.
Herbie Stupple made only his second start of the season in the back row, while Albion were able to name dual registered England under 20 hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie on the bench.
Rotherham included former Albion man Alfie To’oala in their back row but the visitors were without No 8 Laurence Pearce who this week picked up a 4 week suspension for stamping.
An excellent chase back and tackle by Albion wing Tom Bowen prevented Michael Keating from scoring the opening try but Titans did take the lead when Juan Pablo Socino put over a penalty from the 22.
Socino, who is the Championships top points scorer, then limped off with a hamstring injury before Albion got their noses in front when flanker Sean-Michael went over after taking a pass from skipper Rhys Oakley.
After Mugford hit a post with a long range penalty, Rotherham regained the lead when centre Jack Roberts finished off a flowing three quarter move and fly half Joel Hodgson added the conversion.
Impressive Titans flanker Jack Preece, after powering through some poor attempted tackles got try number two for the visitors, with Hodgson again adding the extras.
Bowen, after giving Keating a five metre start, showed great pace to latch onto a long kick downfield and the in form wing notched his eighth try of the season.
Rotherham went into the break leading 17-10 and stretched their lead by a further six points through two Hodgson penalties.
Albion through poor game management came away with no points after a long spell in side the visitors 22 and Titans made them pay when Keating outpaced Albion replacement Rob Langley for his sides third try.
Bowen who is now the Championships top try scorer got a late consolation score which replacement Declan Cusack converted.
Next up for Albion are home and away British & Irish cup matches against Munster.
Plymouth Albion: C Elder, T Bowen, H Stevens (B Woods 72), T Howley-Berridge, J Davies, D Mugford (D Cusack 56), R Cushion (P Rowley 56), T Harrison (B Rogers 7-21 and 53), M Crumpton (L Cowan-Dickie 53), L Fairbrother (D Morton 72), I Ascroft-Leigh (R Langley 59), B Beukeboom, H Stupple, S-M Stephen, R Oakley capt
Tries: Stephen, Bowen 2
Rotherham Titans: S Scanlon, M Keating, J Roberts, J P Socino (J Gill 16), C Wilson, J Hodgson, C Mulchrone capt (D White 75), R Hislop (T Williams 72), B Sowery (T Cruse 58), C Quigley (M Tamlin 67), B Maddison (B Thomas 67), D Sanderson, A Reider, J Preece, A To’oala (T Freeman 58)
Tries: Roberts, Preece, Keating
Cons: Hodgson 2
Pens: Socino, Hodgson 2
Referee: Tom Foley (RFU)