PLYMOUTH ALBION 7 HULL IONIANS 17
PLYMOUTH Albion’s five-match winning run was brought to an end by Hull Ionians in horrible conditions at Brickfields.
There was a time when Albion used to like playing in conditions like Saturday but this season muddy days just do not seem to suit Graham Dawe’s young team.
They lost at home to Darlington in the mud and rain and struggled away at Wharfedale, where they needed a last-gasp try to win as Storm Desmond hit the area.
Conditions were shocking on Saturday and Albion just could not get their game going.
They had plenty of possession and territory, much more than Hull, but they were unable to make it tell, whereas the visitors had three opportunities in Albion’s half in the first period and scored on each occasion to lead 17-0 at the break.
Hull, who had not won in six games, played the conditions really well. They kicked well into the corners and then used their forwards to claim the double over Dawe’s side, having won 25-21 in East Yorkshire at the start of the season. All their three tries came from good kicks.
Albion, in contrast, probably tried to play too much rugby and did not make the right decisions at the right time. For example, on a couple of occasions they tapped penalties in the middle of the field rather than booting the ball down into the corner for a line-out.
The big turning point came at the end of the first half when Albion got a penalty right in front of the posts at a scrum, which was one of their strengthens on the day.
They opted for another scrum and the referee, who had opted not to sin-bin Hull’s scrum-half Isaac Green for an infringement seconds earlier, reset it a number of times but refused to give Albion another penalty and eventually he blew up for the break after the home team were unable to make the set piece tell.
Having played so well away at Hartpury College and at Rosslyn Park, it was really disappointing for Albion to lose at home and in front of a 1,000-plus crowd who braved the terrible weather. The loss has also dropped them down to seventh in the National One table.
Albion kept the same team that had beaten Rosslyn Park away the week before. However, there was a change on the bench, where club captain returned from injury in place of Elliot Bale.
Hull named Plymothian Richard Stout among their replacements.
Albion dominated the opening couple of minutes but could not score and Hull managed to do so on their first attack after a poor decision by Plymouth full-back Ethan Ford.
Hull kicked to the corner, the ball did not go out but rather than pick up and try and kick clear, Ford crossed the touch-line and picked up, expecting to get a line-out. However, the referee ruled against him and gave Hull the line-out five metres out. They won it and scored through lock Joe Makin. Green converted.
Albion, who interestingly have not scored a try direct from a maul in two months, should have collected a score in the eighth minute. Good play by Jarrad Hayler and Nile Dacres got Plymouth right on the line but they could not get the ball down and eventually Hull turned them over.
And Ionians made them pay by adding a second try on 14 minutes. After good pressure from a line-out they kicked to the corner and the prolific Quile Smith won the race to get a hand on it. Green missed the conversion.
Albion then dominated the next 15 minutes. Searle had the chance to cut the gap with a penalty on 24 minutes but he hit the post and Hull cleared.
The home side just could not seem to manage the conditions and it got worse for them when Hull scored a third try on their third foray into the Plymouth half.
Another good kick to the corner forced Albion to give away a five-metre line-out. Although the home side initially stopped the drive, Hull recycled and forced their way over through former Nottingham and Doncaster back-rower Phil Eggleshaw to make it 17-0.
Dawe’s side should have scored right at the end of the first half. They got a penalty from a scrum right in front of the posts. The referee initially played advantage and scrum-half Green deliberately killed the ball from an offside position to prevent Albion scoring, but the referee did not yellow card him. Albion opted for another scrum from the penalty and three times it was reset before Albion eventually went wide and lost the ball.
After the break Hull had a great chance. It looked like they might have scored a fourth try but were penalised for a double movement.
Following that let off for Plymouth the normal pattern of the game resumed – the home side dominating territory but not making it tell.
Albion were close to scoring in the 58th minute after a tap penalty but Hull stopped them right on the try line.
Eventually the home side did get a try in the 70th minute. It came through replacement Dan Collier after Albion had pushed Hull off a scrum 22 metres out. Shepherd converted to leave his side 10 points behind.
But that was all Albion were able to manage in the mud bath.
They now have to pick themselves up for a tough trip to Fylde next weekend.
Albion: Ethan Ford, Seti Raumakita, Tom Bedford, Marc Koteczky, Harrison Cully, Billy Searle, Matt Shepherd, Ollie Dawe, Rupert Freestone, Christian Judge, Ed Holmes, Nile Dacres, Jarrad Hayler, Sam Matavesi, Herbie Stupple (capt). Reps: Dan Pullinger, Dan Collier, Gregory Sebastien, Jake Murphy, Cameron Setter.
Hull Ionians: Michael Bateman, Stephen Slingsby, Joel Gill, Joe Allott, Aquile Smith, James Ferguson, Isaac Green, David Laverick, Alistair Thomson, Stephen Johnson, Joe Makin, Dan Paul, Joe Sanders, Ed Falkingham, Phil Eggleshaw. Reps: Steve Quigley, Richard Stout, Josh Redfern, Gregory Lound, Sam Wilson.
Referee: Shane Lewis (RFU)
Scorers: Albion: Try: Collier; Con: Shepherd
Hull: Tries: Makin, Smith, Eggleshaw; Con: Green