Match report by Rob Kershaw / Photography by David Cunningham
A phenomenal afternoon of Rugby saw Plymouth Albion push top of the table Sale all the way at Heywood Road on Saturday, but they ultimately fell to a 45-35 defeat.
With Albion possibly ‘still on the bus’, a frantic opening 20 minutes saw Sale go 14 ahead through Josh Brown and Neville Edwards, with James Robins converting both scores.
However, the Albion response was lightning. Tom Putt flew over twice to pull Ryan Lamb’s men back level, picking himself up both times to slot the conversions and give the crowd some early new year’s entertainment.
A stolen line-out denied Sale a chance to re-take the lead before the visitors gave themselves a similar opportunity at the other end.
That chance was duly taken. Inspirational captain Herbie Stupple waltzed over the line, and Putt stepped up to give the Ocean City’s finest a seven-point advantage.
But there would be a further riposte in the first half from the hosts, with Fergus Mulchrone and then Tom Walsh touching down, with Robins adding the extras to the first of them. Albion went into the break behind after a ridiculous 40 minutes.
The second half started much the same as the first. Sale were the quicker of the two sides off the line, and Brown scored his second of the afternoon. Robins continued his impressive performance from the tee to extend the advantage.
However, quintessential of a ding dong battle, Albion replied almost immediately, with Jamie Salter keeping the game well and truly alive from a trademark driving maul. That secured a try bonus in a game where both sides had thoroughly richly to take home some prizes.
More breathing room was made available for the Manchester side when Walsh sprinted through, and some fine defending helped Sale repel a further Devon assault as the visitors looked for a fast response.
Another try was pulled back moments later when Sale couldn’t stop the Albion maul and Robins conceded a penalty try, earning him 10 minutes in the bin and setting up a grandstand final 10 on the pitch.
But it would be Sale who had the final word on an extraordinary day when Oliver Longmore scored late on, securing the victory.
It was a remarkable effort against the side top of the table who were stacked with 6 players from Premiership outfit Sale Sharks and, in spite of defeat on the road, a sign of how far Plymouth Albion has come as a club, and how far it may yet go. After the first Rugby weekend of 2023, Ryan Lamb and his boys have a hell of a lot to be proud of.
Join us next weekend as we take on Cinderford at home
All tickets for all stands are just £10 and you can book online now – BUY TICKETS