Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Losing at home is ‘a bitter pill to swallow’ admits Albion boss Dawe

Graham DawePLYMOUTH Albion’s director of rugby Graham Dawe admitted losing at home to Darlington Mowden Park was ‘a bitter pill to swallow’.

Albion had claimed bonus point wins against Henley, Cinderford and Blaydon in their three previous matches, but in wet and windy conditions at Brickfields on Saturday they were beaten 25-15.

The National One match was decided in the final quarter, with ambitious Darlington, who had flown down from the North East, winning courtesy of a penalty try and a late penalty.

Dawe felt his team had their chance to claim another victory but did not play the elements well enough.

“It was a very hard game,” said the Albion boss. “Having scored early we didn’t really capitalise on that momentum and they’ve stayed in the game all the way and ultimately deserve their win.”

He added: “Those conditions don’t suit our game quite the same as dry weather, but living in this country you can’t run away from the fact that you have to play them.

“And I think we have got a game that can suit those conditions, but we need to work on it.”

Dawe continued: “We didn’t quite tactically get it right and skill-wise we weren’t quite there as we have been really. We have to recognise conditions earlier and realise how we are going to have to play the game.

“But their back three marshalled the back field very well, so that did not give us much of a kick option and if we kicked it up in the air they took most things, so we tried to play the running game but errors crept in and we also succumbed to a high penalty count as well.

“It was always going to be a tight game. We had opportunities to score and we got pulled back a couple of times, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow.”

Dawe did not want to comment of the performance of the officials, but did admit not scoring at the end of the first half when they had three successive penalties inside Mowden’s 22 was crucial. Although referee Veryann Boscawn sin-binned Darlington’s Olly Hodgon he reversed the final penalty right on the try line.

“That was very crucial as we wanted to go in at half-time leading and to be trailing by a point was quite tough mentally,” said Dawe.

“But I know this team has got enough about it to smash a few rucks and get back into games, but we needed to be carrying in twos, hitting in threes and fours and challenging defensives lines to see if they were going to give penalties away.

“We never really had enough field position to say we had a handle on the game.”

He added: “We desperately wanted to win and I think the biggest pain is that we have surrendered on our own pitch without so much as a bonus point.”

When asked if he was disappointed his team’s winning run had come to an end, Dawe said: “I would not say we’ve been on a run; we have just been working our way through the league – not always how we want to do it but we are trying to learn as we go.”

Dawe’s biggest frustration was that Darlington’s three tries all came from Albion mistakes.

“There’s a lot of good and even average rugby teams won games off other people’s mistakes, that’s the game of rugby,” said Dawe. “But you don’t see these really good teams make error after error. It is one thing making an error, but it’s another by compounding it by giving away a penalty.”

Albion now have to pick themselves up for a tough trip to high-flying Blackheath next weekend.


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