Plymouth Albion were left with a solitary bonus point for scoring four tries after a tough 34-24 loss on the road to London outfit Esher.
After a game full of heart and endeavour at fortress Brickfields last weekend, beating fifth-placed Cinderford, the travelling faithful expected Albion to make short work of the team they defeated 45-29 in the reverse fixture. Sadly that was not to be on a bitterly cold day in London.
Prior to the game, all the talk had been about the return of wingers Alex Ducker and Kyle Speare, to add to the Albion arsenal. Indeed, it was sign of the growing depth in the squad that coach Ryan Lamb was able to change 4 of his backline from the week before, and give Ramaz Rukhadze a week to rest up front.
Starting one place off the relegation spots, Esher have been on a run of late, winning three of their last four and certainly made the more positive of starts with former Albion man Sam Morely slotting a penalty. It took twenty minutes for Albion to respond with a trademark lineout drive, Jamie Salter emerging with the ball to leave the score 3-5.
While Esher were causing trouble through their lively play, Albion kept a toehold with the maul and were rewarded with a penalty try just before the half to take a narrow 10-12 lead. The next thirty minutes was all about the home side as they scored three tries, the third of which was quite spectacular to take a 19-point buffer into the last 15 minutes.
With the game seemingly beyond them, the visitors started to click up a gear and two more tries from Speare out wide and McGregor from another maul got them within seven points. Sadly, any hope of a spectacular comeback were extinguished as Morely slotted another penalty and the home side saw out the dying embers.
Speaking after the game, head coach Ryan Lamb was disappointed but balanced in his thoughts, “All credit to Esher,I thought they played some good rugby. Controlled a lot of the game and deserved their win. For us, it’s a disappointing performance, especially with how the team have gone the last month or so. Our away form is a bit of a concern for us but we’re still growing as a side so we’ll take some good lessons going into a tough game next week”
The result allows the chasing pack in the league to edge closer to the Ocean City’s finest who will be looking to get a quick response next week. With £10 tickets all around the Brickfields and the visit of England star Nick Easter’s Chinnor outfit, the stage is set for a big game.
Albion v Chinnor, 2:30 PM K/O, Saturday 28th Jan