By Haden Tye
A resilient and battling away performance from Plymouth Albion edged out Darlington Mowden Park at The Northern Echo Arena, to make it four wins out of four with a 17-20 win.
Tries from Robin Wedlake and Herbie Stupple, complimented by two conversions and two penalties from Matthew Shepherd gave Albion a hard-earned away victory.
The weather in Darlington was sunny, but Park’s sizeable stadium the Northern Echo Arena was largely shaded from the weather, so Albion took to the field in a reasonably cold arena. The hosts wore their blue and white hoops, whilst Albion, who were cheered on by the Albi faithful sporting their red away shirt.
The first action of the afternoon came after four minutes, as Dean Squire received a yellow card for a high tackle. After play restarted, Joshua Brahman kicked for the posts, but his kick was a little too accurate and hit the left post and rebounded.
After a stop-start opening to the game, Albion broke out of their half, a line-out ball fell to Robin Wedlake, who powered his way past Park’s 5-metre line and dived for the try line to put Albion ahead. Matthew Shepherd was given the task of scoring from a difficult angle on the left, but it was no problem for him and he extended Albion’s lead.
Shepherd then came close to stretching Albion’s lead once again as his penalty kick from just inside DMP’s half hit the post, and bounced wide, just as Brahman’s had.
Albion didn’t have to wait long to extend their advantage though, with the wind in their sales, Albion won a scrum on Mowden Park’s 5-metre line and powered their way over the try line, with Stupple getting his name on the scoresheet. Shepherd once again added the extras.
On the half-hour mark, the hosts managed to get a foothold in the game, as Todd Prisk was yellow carded. The home side then scored as Adam Radwan skipped past a tackle on the left and scored their first points of the game. Brahman converted from the left to bring the scores to 7-14 to Albion.
It was just over five minutes later and the visitors scored again, capitalising on their man advantage. Callum Mackenzie was the scorer, however Brahman was unable to convert this time though, so Albion retained their lead.
That lead lasted until the second-half, but not the hour mark. With 53 minutes played, Matt Heaton raced down the left and scored a try for Mowden Park, but again Brahman failed to convert.
Mowden Park’s lead was only temporary, though. Shepherd, who was having an impressive afternoon with his kicking, scored a penalty to make the scores level. Then ten minutes later the athletic full back scored another penalty to put Albion 17-20 ahead.
Darlington pressed Albion, but the red shirts stood strong time and time again. Mowden Park had plenty of the ball as they tried to unlock the Albion defence, but Kieran Hallett’s side remained firm as the clock ticked down to give Albion the win.
Plymouth Albion RFC
First team: 15 Shepherd, 14 Crosscombe, 13 Strong, 12 Powell, 11 Wedlake, 10 Squire. 9 Setter; 1 Keast, 2 Salter, 3 Pullinger, 4 Prisk, 5 Holmes, 6 Daly, 7 Cooper, 8 Stupple (Capt)
Replacements: 16 Freestone, 18 Mills, 19 Dacres, 20 Hallett.
T: Wedlake (14), Stupple (20).
P: Shepherd (57, 67)
C: Shepherd (14, 20)
Darlington Mowden Park RFC
First team: 15 Bernard, 14 Murray, 13 Frankland, 12 Auld (Capt), 11 Radwan, 10 Brahman, 9 Duchesne; 1 Fearn, 2 Appleby, 3 Payne, 4 Craggs, 5 Conquest, 6 Petillo, 7 Uzokwe, 8 Heaton.
Replacements: 16 Vaioleti, 17 Jones, 18 Duff, 19 Mackenzie, 20 Fitzpatrick.
T: Radwan (30), Mackenzie (36), Heaton (53).
C: Brahman (30)