Plymouth Albion 39 Stirling County 3
Friday 10th January 2014
Plymouth Albion completed the double over Stirling County by running in six unanswered tries, which enabled them to stretch their lead at the top of pool 4 in this seasons British & Irish Cup.
Everything will be decided next weekend when Albion travel to Nottingham and pool rivals Munster A play Stirling in Scotland.
Either Albion or Munster will progress to the quarter finals as pool winners but there is a strong possibility that the other side could go through as one of the best two runners up.
Plymouth and Munster are both on 18 match points but Albion lead the pool with a 26 points higher points difference.
Some of the gloss of Albion’s win was taken away when, deep in stoppage time, flanker Rob Langley was sent off by Irish referee Stuart Gaffekin for an alleged tip tackle.
Albion head coach James Shanahan reflecting on the performance said, “I was happy with our performance in the first half. We moved the ball into space well and I was pleased to have the bonus point in the bag by half time.
‘In the second half we lacked accuracy and in the end we were 2 or 3 scores short of what I would have liked.”
Commenting on Langley’s sending off Shanahan added, “The red card was disappointing and looked to be very harsh. I didn’t see it as a red card offence.”
Albion made a number of changes from the side narrowly beaten by Leeds Carnegie in the Championship.
Shanahan changed the entire front five and recalled Matt Shields who has recently been on loan at Tynedale.
In the backs there were recalls for centre Pale Nonu and winger Jamie Davies who missed the Leeds game through injury.
Stirling included eight players who were involved in the first encounter against Albion, a game they lost 38-12.
Albion got off to a slow start and fell behind after 8 minutes when Stirling fly half Brian Archibald kicked a 25 metre penalty given for not rolling away.
Albion quickly levelled the scores when fly half Declan Cusack put over a penalty from the 22 after visiting prop Garry Mountfield was caught offside at a maul.
In the 19th minute the Irish referee yellow carded Albion’s Dave Morton and Stirling’s Kris Burney for collapsing a scrum, which only served to take minutes out of the game as both teams had to make changes.
From the resultant 5 metre scrum Albion’s scored their first try that was claimed by skipper Rhys Oakley who picked up and dived over.
Cusack converted before impressive centre Toby Howley-Berridge scored Albion’s second try.
Stirling were then reduced to 14 for a second time when flanker Will Bordill was sin binned and while he was off the field Albion ran in two more tries.
Wing Ben Woods notched try number 3 and the try scoring bonus point was secured when lock Harrison Tovey strolled over by the uprights.
Cusack added the conversion for a 27-3 Albion lead at the interval.
The game went a bit flat after the break and it was Albion’s turn to be a man down when replacement Tom Cowan-Dickie was carded for a professional foul.
Striling were unable to take advantage and it was Albion who finished much the stronger adding two late tries.
Woods crossed wide out for his second of the game which replacement fly half Dan Mugford converted with an excellent kick from the touchline.
Experienced centre Pale Nonu powered over for Albion’s final try before Langley received his marching orders
Plymouth Albion: C Elder, B Woods, T Howley-Berridge, P Nonu, J Davies (M Shields 19 -29), D Cusack (D Mugford 55), R Cushion (C Setter 55), T Harrison (M Rice 46), G Evans (T Cowan-Dickie 51), D Morton (M Shields 51), H Tovey, D Williams, S-M Stephen, R Langley, R Oakley capt (G Evans 65 (Ascroft-Leigh 75))rep not used H Stevens.
Tries: Oakley, Howley-Berridge, Woods 2, Tovey, Nonu
Cons: Cusack 2, Mugford
Yellow cards: Morton, Cowan-Dickie
Red card: Langley
Stirling County: C Robertson, G Lindsay (J Bhatti 19-29), R Vernon, J Urquart (A, Russell 64) Hughes, B Archibald, S Kennedy (A Watt 75), K Burney (J Bhatti 51), R Kennedy, G Mountford (R Murray 77), C Deacons, E Dewer, S Robertson, W Bordill (A Leishman 80), J Swanson (S Swindell 54)
Yellow cards: Burney, Bordill
Referee: Stuart Gaffiken (IRFU)