PLYMOUTH ALBION 15 DARLINGTON MOWDEN PARK 25
PLYMOUTH Albion’s winning run came to an end in terrible conditions at Brickfields on Saturday afternoon when Darlington Mowden Park beat them 25-15.
Albion had gone into the match on the back of bonus-point victories over Henley, Cinderford and Blaydon, but they struggled to handle the elements and referee Veryam Boscawn, who had a major part to play in an error-ridden game.
It was a fixture that Albion could have won, but in the first half, when they looked to have the edge and Darlington were struggling with their line-out, the home side paid for trying to play out of their own half too much and in the second period their set piece let them down.
The match was all-square at 15-15 with 20 minutes to go, with Nile Dacres and Marc Koteczky scoring tries for Albion and Tom Putt kicking a penalty and conversion.
But a penalty try awarded by Boscawn after Albion had lost a line-out 11 minutes from time decided the fixture, with Mowden Park then kicking a late penalty to even deny Albion a bonus point.
It was the first time Albion had experienced such horrible conditions this season and it did prevent their young speedy backs getting into the match.
But they have to learn to win games in other ways and Graham Dawe and is coaching staff will be hoping it is a lesson his team have taken on board.
Albion kept the same starting side that had beaten Henley, Cinderford and Blaydon.
The only change to the squad that had won 36-3 at Henley Hawks the previous week was on the bench where Seti Raumakita came in for his Royal Navy team-mate Jarrad Hayler, who had played three games in five days for Albion, the UK Armed Forces and Navy Under-23s.
Mowden Park, who flew down from the North East the day before, included four ex-Plymouth players in their starting line-up – Jake Henry, Peter Homan, Tom Jubb and Alistair Bone – and another – Tom Harrison – on the bench.
Albion made a great start and took the lead in the fifth minute with a try from close range by Nile Dacres. It came after the home side had stolen a Mowden Park line-out inside their 22 after a good kick to touch by Cameron Setter.
But Plymouth gave Mowden Park the chance to reduce the deficit in the ninth minute when they knocked on trying to play out of their half and were then penalised at the scrum on 22-metres. Garry Law easily kicked the three points on offer in front of the posts.
Albion had stolen the visitors’ first three lineouts but were guilty of trying to play too much rugby in their own half in poor conditions.
Handling was difficult and Albion paid for that in the 20th minute when they lost the ball attacking and Darlington picked up. They went wide and Law broke before putting Henry away and he sprinted home to score in the left corner from 45 metres. Law was unable to convert but the visitors were 8-7 up.
After that the game got a bit feisty. The referee did not help with some of his decisions.
Albion came agonisingly close to scoring in first half injury-time. They took a quick penalty and got within inches of the line. They did get two more penalties and eventually sin-binned Mowden Park’s number Oliver Hodgson. However, Albion were unable to make the extra man tell as controversially referee Boscawn reversed the penalty and the visitors kicked out to end the half.
Just like in the first period, Albion got the perfect start to the second half.
Mowden Park kicked straight out and then Albion got a penalty from the scrum. For the first time in the game Mowden Park stole their line-out, but then the visitors kindly passed the ball straight to Kotecky, who ran in to score.
That made it 12-8, but the home side then shot themselves in the foot again. They were penalised at their own line-out and then Mowden Park got another penalty. They went for the corner and after pressure Ignas Darkintis went over from close range and Law converted.
Albion levelled seven minutes later when Putt kicked a penalty, but then it all went wrong for them.
Some poor handling saw them pushed back into their own 22, where they lost a line-out. Mowden Park drove and referee awarded them a penalty try and sin-binned Tom Bedford.
After that Albion just could not get anything going and by then they had definitely got themselves on the wrong side of Boscawn.
Mowden Park were held up over the line in the 74th minute before kicking a penalty in front of the posts to seal the game and claim their third win of the season.
To cap a miserable day, Albion also had replacement Rupert Freestone surprisingly sin-binned late on.
Albion: Tom Putt, Tom Bedford, Jake Murphy (capt), Marc Koteczky, Ethan Ford, Billy Searle, Cameron Setter, Ollie Dawe, James Penman, Christian Judge, Dan Collier, Ed Holmes, Nile Dacres, Cameron Thompson, Herbie Stupple. Reps: Rupert Freestone, Dan Pullinger, Gregory Sebastien, Seti Raumakita, Matt Shepherd.
Darlington Mowden Park: Ed Coulson, Peter Homan, Ben Frankland, Garry Law, Jake Henry, Warren Seals, Bruno Bravo, Gareth Nesbit, Santiago Socino, Ignas Darkintis, Robert Conquest, Tom Jubb, Alistair Bone, Luca Petillo, Oliver Hodgson. Reps: Tom Harrison, Simon Uzokwe, Rory Duff, Michael Tait, Matthew Walsh.
Referee: Veryam Boscawn (RFU)
Scorers: Albion: Tries: Dacres, Koteczky; Con: Putt; Pen: Putt
Darlington Mowden Park: Tries: Henry, Ignas, Penalty; Cons: Law 2; Pens: 2
Cards: Albion: Bedford (yellow 69), Freestone (yellow 80)
Darlington: Hodgson (yellow 40+3)