PLYMOUTH Albion’s hopes of Championship survival are still alive, despite suffering a record defeat at Brickfields on Saturday against league leaders Bristol.
The city side would have been relegated after their heavy loss had Moseley won at Bedford Blues.
It did not look good for Albion when Moseley were 21-14 up in the second half. However, Bedford hit back and claimed a 31-21 victory to rescue Plymouth for another week.
Albion, though, have to beat Moseley, who remain seven points in front of them, at Billesley Common next Saturday to have any hope of surviving.
They will not travel to Birmingham in confident mood after their hammering by a star-studded Bristol side.
The visitors, who included Wales internationals Matthew Morgan, Dwayne Peel and Ryan Jones in their starting line-up, were just too good on the day. They ran in 10 tries, with four coming from director of rugby Andy Robinson’s son, Ollie.
It was the second time this season Plymouth had conceded 10 tries in a league game, having lost 64-16 in front of the television cameras at London Scottish.
At least this time it was not on show to a national audience and the opposition were better, although it was particularly painful as it was at home.
Leaders Bristol, who have only lost once in the league all season, just did not give Albion hardly any chance to get hold of the ball with their forwards dominating, particularly at the scrum.
The home side, who offered little to trouble their opponents, were not helped by referee Craig Maxwell-Keys, who penalised them time after time in the first half.
After their defeat against the Pirates, James Shanahan’s departure and the suspension of three players, the last thing Albion needed was to go behind early. But that’s what happened and by half-time Bristol were 36-0 up and cruising.
Fly-half Morgan gave Bristol the lead with a penalty on four minutes and then straight from the restart hooker Ross McMillan scored the game’s first try. Morgan converted to make it 10-0.
The game was held up for an injury to Bristol lock Ian Evans, but the Premiership-chasing side did not let it upset them.
Albion, who had lost 55-18 to Bristol in January, just could not seem to get out of their half and it was no surprise when their opponents scored a second try courtesy of flanker Robinson from a catch-and-drive move.
The impressive Morgan then added a third touch down, which he also converted, when he ran in under the posts after fellow Welshman Peel had taken a quick tap penalty.
Robinson scored his second and Bristol’s fourth on 38 minutes with a trademark touchdown from the back of a maul. Morgan converted, which made it 29-0.
Then right on half-time, referee Maxwell-Keys, who did not make himself any friends among the Albion faithful, awarded Bristol a penalty try from a five-metre scrum to make the score at the interval 36-0.
Bristol continued where they left after the break. It took former British Lions scrum-half Dwayne Peel just five minutes to score a sixth try for the visitors after collecting a clever kick through.
Robinson claimed his hat-trick on 50 minutes when he went over from close range. However, it looked like Bristol had knocked the ball on in the build up to that move.
That made it 48-0, but Albion gave their supporters something to cheer about when flanker Eoghan Grace managed to get over the line two minutes later. Declan Cusack converted, but that was as good as it got for Plymouth, with Bristol, who brought on former Albion player Tom Kessell for his debut and dual-registered prop Ellis Genge, adding three more tries.
Flanker Nick Koster went over in the 56th minute before Robinson scored his fourth of the afternoon on 74 minutes from another maul. The final word went to visiting winger Charlie Amesbury, who scored after Albion were turned over trying to attack from a tap penalty.
It was a tough afternoon for the Plymouth faithful but at least they were boosted by the news from Goldington Road that Bedford had denied Moseley any points.
Albion: Jack Arnott, Mark Kohler, Ben Woods, Marc Koteczky, Jake Henry, Declan Cusack (capt), Cameron Setter, Tom Fidler, Ted Stagg, Andrew Tiedemann, Neale Patrick, Tom Hicks, Rhys Oakley, Eoghan Grace. Reps: James Penman, Dan Pullinger, Tom Harrison, Tom Jubb, Iain Grieve, Josh Davies, Lawrence Rayner.
Bristol: Jack Wallace, Charles Amesbury, Gareth Maule, Ben Moses, David Lemi, Matthew Morgan, Dwayne Peel (capt), Jack O’Connell, Ross McMillan, Rodrigo Cortes, Ben Glynn, Ian Evans, Ralph Koster, Ollie Robinson, Ryan Jones. Reps: James Stephenson, Anthony Perenise, Ellise Genge, Glen Townson, Tom Kessell, Adrian Davies, Jack Tovey.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Ketys (RFU)
Scorers: Albion: Try: Grace; Con: Cusack
Bristol: Tries: Robinson 4, McMillan, Morgan, penalty, Peel, Koster, Amesbury; Cons: Morgan 6 Pen: Morgan
YOU CAN VIEW PICTURES FROM THE GAME HERE http://www.ppauk.com/event/Plymouth-Albion-v-Bristol-110415/
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