ROSSLYN PARK…24 PLYMOUTH ALBION…26
PLYMOUTH Albion moved up to fifth in the National One table after surviving a late scare away at last season’s runners-up Rosslyn Park.
Albion produced an impressive first half display at Priory Lane to lead 18-6 but Rosslyn Park came back in the second half and they could have snatched a draw with the last kick of the game.
Replacement Tom Whiteley crossed for a last-gasp try, but former Albion development player Tom Whelan missed the conversion.
The win was Albion’s fifth in a row and went someway to making up for their 16-15 defeat at home by Rosslyn Park at the start of the season.
Harrison Cully, Ethan Ford and Christian Judge scored tries for Albion, with Billy Searle kicking the rest of their points.
Albion made just one change to their team that had stunned Hartpury College in their last outing before Christmas. That came at loose-head prop where fit-again Ollie Dawe came in for Dan Pullinger, who dropped to the bench.
Plymouth were also able to welcome back experienced lock Dan Collier, but he had to make do with just a place on the bench.
Rosslyn Park included Mark Kohler, who played for Albion last season, and Whelan, who had a short spell at Brickfields in 2012, in their starting line-up.
Albion made a great start and took the lead in the third minute when Searle kicked a penalty from 22 metres after Rosslyn Park had been penalised at a scrum.
The visitors could have increased their lead three minutes later when Herbie Stupple charged down a kick and was through, but the referee pulled play back for an earlier knock-on.
Another good chance went begging for Albion a couple of minutes later when they were stopped right on the try line after good play by Nile Dacres.
But the try Dawe’s side threatened did come in the 11th and ironically came from Park’s first attack. The home side broke into Albion’s half but Billy Searle intercepted a pass on the 22 and fed fellow teenager Harrison Cully, who ran the length of the field to score under the posts. It was his second try in two games and was converted by Searle.
However, that seemed to stir Park into life. They had some good pressure from a line-out and were rewarded with a penalty that Whelan kicked.
Devonian Whelan added another penalty five minutes later from a scrum to make it 10-6, but back came the visitors.
Ford put in a great high kick that caused Park all kinds of problems in the wet weather and nearly led to a try. The five-pointer did not come but Albion got a penalty that Searle kick to increase their lead to seven points.
And that became a 12 point advantage four minutes later when the impressive Ford dived over on the right after good, quick play from a line-out on the left. Searle, though, could not add the conversion.
The home team had two great chances to score towards the end of the first half but Albion defended really well to keep them out.
The way they defended a five-metre driving maul was as good as a try.
Park came out fired up at the start of the second half and Albion gave away too many penalties and one of them lead to the home side scoring. Park went for five-metre lineout and from it Hugo Ellis got the ball down to make it 18-11.
But Albion hit straight back. A good kick to the corner by Matt Shepherd put Park on their own line and they messed up the line-out and threw the ball over the jumpers and straight into the hands of Judge, who dived over for his first try for Plymouth. Searle surprisingly missed the conversion.
However, Rosslyn Park’s heads would not go down and they cut the gap to seven points again in the 56 minute when centre Matt Hawke scored a good try in the left corner after some strong forward pressure inside.
Searle edged Albion 10 points ahead with a long-range penalty but Whelan cancelled that out a few minutes later with one of his own.
Park could smell at least a draw and they threw everything at Albion in the dying minutes. The visitors, showing plenty of spirit, defended really well but eventually gave away a penalty and had Sam Matavesi sin-binned. Park went for the corner and pressed. Plymouth really defended hard nearly the posts but Park went wide and there was replacement Whitelely to go over. Whelan could have snatched a draw but his kick fell short and wide, much to Albion’s relief.
Rosslyn Park: A Field, D Vincent, A Henderson, M Hawke, M Kohler, T Whelan, W Crow (T Whiteley h/t), M Lilley (H Elrington h/t), T Gleave (T Vaughan-Edwards 69), L Chawatama, A Frampton, R Boyle, M MacFarlane, S Shires, H Ellis (H Rowland 54). Rep not used: M Nwakor.
Albion: E Ford, S Raumakita (C Setter 60), T Bedford, M Koteczky, H Cully, B Searle, M Shepherd, O Dawe (D Pullinger 53), R Freestone, C Judge, E Holmes (D Collier 60), N Dacres, J Hayler (G Sebastien 73), S Matavesi, H Stupple (capt). Rep not used: E Bale.
Referee: James Sullivan (RFU)
Scores: Rosslyn Park: Ellis, Hawke, Whiteley; Pens: Whelan 3
Albion: Tries: Cully, Ford, Judge; Con: Searle; Pen: Searle 3
Cards: Rosslyn Park: None; Albion: Matavesi (yellow 80).