PLYMOUTH Albion’s director of rugby Graham Dawe admitted his side ‘definitely needed’ their bonus point away victory at Blaydon.
Albion had dropped down to 12th in the National One table ahead of their longest trip of the season after back-to-back losses against Coventry and Esher.
A defeat at the hands of Blaydon could have left Albion in the bottom three, but they are back up to 10th after their 38-33 win at Crow Trees and they will be hoping to keep moving up the league in the next few weeks.
They now know they can win on their travels. Their success in the North East on Saturday ended a 19-month wait for an away league victory.
“Full credit to all 20 guys involved,” said Dawe. “There was lots of endeavour and lots of heart.
“It was very nervy at the end but we just had to hold our shape and not give another penalty away.
“The win was something we definitely, definitely needed and our season could end up being defined by those final 10 minutes.”
Albion just could not shake off their hosts. Three times Dawe’s young team went two scores up but on each occasion, Blaydon came back with the help of their impressive driving maul.
“The boys really stuck at it against all odds to scrape the win,” said Dawe.
“It was a long trip, an isolated pitch and we did not too many decisions to go with it.
“We compounded ourselves by giving away penalties in the midfield and they had a pretty good driving maul.
“The maul is part of the game that if done well is undefendable, but penalties led to them. All those driving line-outs came from penalties.
“There’s lot of things still to work on. I wouldn’t put out the bunting yet, but it was a great win and, like I said, our season could be defined by those final 10 minutes at Blaydon.”
Albion have been struggling with injuries in the last couple weeks. They have not been helped by having Royal Navy players Jarrad Hayler and Seti Raumakita away at the International Defence Rugby Competition.
On Saturday they had to make a late change to their team when fly-half Elliot Bale dropped out in the warm-up.
It meant 19-year-old Billy Searle earned his first start for the club and he marked it with two well-taken tries.
“Elliot did not feel right warming up,” said Dawe. “We did warn Billy that Elliot had an issue, so he was mentally spot on.
“He was going to be our back-up 10 anyway and he knew he could be needed at any minute, but it just happened that he was needed in the warm-up.”
Albion, down to their last fit registered back, had taken Matt Shepherd and Ben Hawley as travelling reserves. Shepherd had not been fit enough on Thursday to be named in the original 20-man squad due to a knee injury, but it had improved by Saturday and he came on to the bench when Bale dropped out.
In the end, Shepherd was needed to play on the wing after Ethan Ford had to go off injured.
Dawe’s side will be back at home this coming Saturday when they entertain Cinderford at Brickfields (2pm).