PLYMOUTH Albion’s director of rugby Graham Dawe was delighted his team were able to end their 2015 home campaign with a bonus point win.
Albion ran in five tries to overcome a dangerous Loughborough side 34-27 at Brickfields on Saturday in National One.
Plymouth had been 26-5 and then 31-12 up in the second half, but the sin-binning of forwards Dan Collier and Sam Matavesi in the final 20 minutes allowed Loughborough to come back and claim two bonus points.
“It was an outstanding win,” said Dawe. “I was really delighted with us getting the tries and getting the bonus point.”
And Dawe was particularly pleased with how his team scrummed on Saturday.
Albion destroyed Loughborough in the set piece for the full 80 minutes.
“It was a great weapon for us,” admitted the former England hooker. “We have been going well for the last few weeks. We are really chuffed with it and long may that continue, but I’m sure we will get a strong examination next weekend.”
He added: “Loughborough have had some good wins this season and outside of the scrum they are a pretty flamboyant team. They are very much in the realms of Fylde and Esher.”
On conceding two late tries and having two players sin-binned, Dawe said: “We can’t change what happened. It is always hard when you get a penalty try against you and a card.
“Rugby has been littered over the years with those sorts of matches where teams have supposedly been out of the game and come back and claimed famous wins. Fortunately, it was not one of those games.”
Dawe felt his team could have been further ahead in the first half. They went in at the break 12-5 up.
“It was a great start to the game for us, scoring early, but then we left the back door open,” said Dawe. “We let them get field position and we ended up defending for a while.
“But our second score just before half-time was a great comfort going into the changing room.”
Nile Dacres became the first Albion player this season to score a hat-trick with three second half tries against Loughborough.
Dawe said: “It was good to see him execute so well. He’s a very talented athlete.”
Albion had suffered a blow before kick-off when captain Jake Murphy failed a late fitness test due to an ankle injury.
“It’s always a double blow losing a good player and your skipper,” said Dawe. “It was a disruption.
“In Jake’s absence, Herbie skippered the team. He was the natural leader for this particular game and the team responded well to him.”
Murphy’s absence came with Albion also missing fellow centre Marc Koteczky.
“It was a bit of a London bus scenario,” said Dawe, who is also still without top scorer and full-back Tom Putt. “We lose one centre and then lose a second, but Harrison Cully stepped up and he looked very comfortable there.”
Murphy’s late withdraw, meant a first league start for Royal Navy player Seti Raumakita, who started on the wing.
“Seti acquitted himself well,” said Dawe. “He put in two really good tackles early on and carried it on. He was unlucky not to get a try when he dropped the ball.”
The one disappointment for Dawe was the size of the crowd, with Albion only pulling in 961 when they had hoped for 1,000-plus.
“We had hoped for a bigger crowd,” said Dawe. “But all we can do as a squad is just keep playing and performing to encourage people to come. I guess it was a big shopping weekend.”
Next up for Albion is a trip to in-form Hartpury College, who are captained by 35-year-old former Plymouth player-coach Rhys Oakley.
Hartpury sit second in the table, just one point behind leaders Richmond, who they beat on Saturday.
“We have not really talked about Hartpury,” said Dawe. “When we meet up on Monday evening we will talk about how we are going to not only contain Hartpury but try and take the game to them and see if we can squeeze them in areas where they will feel the heat.”
Meanwhile, Dawe is hoping the calf injury to hooker James Penman is not too serious.
The New Zealander had to leave the field just before half-time and went away for medical checks.