Plymouth Albion / Rugby

MATCH REPORT: Plymouth Albion 16 Doncaster Knights 19


PLYMOUTH Albion were unable to bid farewell to the Championship on a winning note.

However, it was not through lack of effort at Brickfields on Saturday. They more than held their own against Doncaster, but paid a heavy price for two yellow cards just before and after half-time.

It meant Plymouth had to play nine minutes with 13 men and while they were two players short Doncaster scored 14 unanswered points.

Up until then, already-relegated Albion had looked the most likely to win and reward their loyal fans for sticking buy them during a tough season.

But it was not to be and now the rebuilding work has to start for the Brickfields club.

They are likely to lose the majority of their players from this season following their relegation. The list of players leaving is expected to be announced this week, but it gives Graham Dawe the chance to bring new personnel and build a new culture at the club.

It is not going to be easy for Albion in National One and without central funding they are going to need supporters and sponsors more than ever, but they have to take heart from their opponents on Saturday, Doncaster. They went down but have come back stronger this season.

Albion, who had made five changes to their team that had lost at Moseley the previous week, made a great start on Saturday with captain Declan Cusack crossing in the left corner after just nine minutes.

The Knights responded quickly with a try from flanker Latu Makaafi from a catch-and-drive move to make it 5-5.

But after that Albion enjoyed the better of the possession and territory.

Cusack increased their lead with a penalty in front of the posts on 25 minutes.

The home side wasted a five-metre line-out before Cusack increased their advantage with another penalty.-

Doncaster, who had struggled to get going, had some good pressure at the end of the half. It lead to Albion having back-row forward Alistair Bone sin-binned, but Doncaster could not get a second try before the break.

However, immediately after the interval Albion had fellow back-rower Eoghan Grace sin-binned for a professional foul and while the home side were down to 13 men Doncaster scored two converted tries.


Centre Mat Clarke went over from close range just two minutes after Grace was shown yellow. Flockhart converted to put Doncaster 12-11 in front.

And six minutes later the visitors scored again through former Albion favourite Bevon Armitage, who was one of four ex-Plymouth players in the Knights’ starting line-up. He showed good strength to cross following a pass from the powerful Makaafi, who broke off a catch-and-drive move. Flockhart again converted to put the Knights 19-11 up.

Once Albion returned to 15 players they managed to get back into the game, but they were to ultimately pay for that 10 minute spell at the start of the second half.

Centre Toby Howley-Berridge gave Albion hope when he went over in the left corner. Cusack missed the conversion but Albion were within a score of their opponents.

They did win a penalty in injury-time. It was 40 metres out, but was probably kickable, but the home side, keen to get a win on their farewell to the Championship, went for the corner with Doncaster having number eight Ollie Steadman sin-binned. Plymouth drove before Grace peeled off but he was pushed into touch before he attempted to off-load to replacement Josh Davies.

Albion tried as they might to snatch the try that would earn them victory but it would not come.

Meanwhile, two of the three remaining places in National One were confirmed on Saturday. Cinderford stayed up by beating Esher. Their victory meant Old Albanian go down, while Hull Ionians join Henley in winning promotion. Ampthill and Bishop’s Stortford will play-off for the final spot in the league, that Albion will be joining after 13 years in tier two.

Albion: Lawrence Rayner, Jack Arnott, Toby Howley-Berridge, Marc Koteczky, Mark Kohler, Declan Cusack (capt), Cameron Setter, Tom Harrison, James Penman, Dan Pullinger, Tom Hicks, Brett Beukeboom, Alistair Bone, Eoghan Grace, Iain Grieve. Reps: Ted Stagg, Pete Homan, Tom Heard, Tom Jubb, Tom Fidler, Lewis Warner, Josh Davies.

Doncaster: Paul Jarvis, Doug Flockhart, Mat Clarke, Bevon Armitage, Tyson Lewis, Paul Roberts, Brad Field, Richard List, Ben Hunter, Colin Quigley, Matt Challinor, Tyler Hotson, Latu Makaafi, Michael Hills, Ollie Steadman. Reps: Jack Bergmanas, Vili Veikoso, Phil Eggleshaw, Willgriff John, Will Foden, Ume Fostia, Bruno Bravo

Referee:  Matthew O’Grady (RFU)

Attendance: 1,486


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