PLYMOUTH ALBION 16 BLAYDON 5
CAMERON SETTER scored his first competitive Plymouth Albion try as the city side overcame horrendous conditions to beat Blaydon 16-5 at Brickfields.
The National One match was in serious doubt after torrential rain left the Brickfields pitch soaked in water but both teams were happy to play.
Albion had come unstuck in similar conditions at home to Hull at the start of January and against Darlington in November, but this time they were able to handle the mud, wind and rain to continue their impressive winning run.
It was never going to be pretty or a high scoring affair. Albion led 6-0 at the break thanks to two penalties from Matt Shepherd.
But relegation-threatened Blaydon closed to within one point after the interval before Shepherd and then at the end, Setter, scored tries to seal Plymouth’s ninth win in 10 matches, which keeps them fourth in the table.
Albion, who kept the same team that beat Esher 30-15 the week before, nearly scored in the fifth minute with a good attack from a scrum. They broke through but dropped the ball in the wet conditions five metres out.
On 20 minutes, Plymouth got a penalty at a scrum. They opted to go for touch but they were not able to make the line-out tell.
Six minutes later, though, they got another penalty and this time Shepherd went for goal and put it over.
Albion were dominating territory – the half they were defending still had green grass on it compared to a brown mess in the half they were attacking – but they could not get a try.
Teenager Harrison Cully, who looked dangerous, came close to scoring in the left corner on 29 minutes with a kick and chase after good play by Sam Matavesi, Herbie Stupple and Ed Holmes, but the ball just bounced into touch out one metre from the try line.
Albion got a penalty on 32 minutes and opted for a scrum but the ball got stuck in the mud and eventually the referee gave Blaydon a penalty.
The home side looked dangerous down the left wing and Shepherd was close to going over just before half-time but was stopped short.
However, Albion went in at half-time 6-0 in front when Shepherd kicked a penalty with the last play of the first half.
Plymouth made the worst possible start to the second half. A kick straight out gave Blaydon a chance to attack. They got a penalty from a maul and went for a five-metre line-out. From it the visitors drove and back-row forward Andrew Archibald got the ball down. Baggott missed the conversion – he didn’t even get the ball off the ground – but Blaydon were just a point behind.
But eight minutes later, Dawe’s side restored their six-point advantage when Shepherd scored down the left corner. He broke and then kicked forward and won the chase to pick up and go over for his ninth of the season.
Albion had to defend a Blaydon five metre lineout minutes later but they stole it and kicked clear. It was a crucial moment in the game.
Shepherd had the chance to put Albion two scores in front on 72 minutes with a penalty, but it held up in the wind and missed.
That led to some kick tennis with both teams trying to force the other into a mistake.
But Albion sealed the game in injury-time when scrum-half Setter, now in his third season at the club, went over for his first competition Albion try after Stupple did well from a scrum 10 metres out.
Albion: Matt Shepherd, Tom Bedford (Elliot Bale 68), Jake Murphy, Marc Koteczky, Harrison Cully (Ethan Ford 65), Billy Searle, Cameron Setter, Ollie Dawe, Rupert Freestone, Christian Judge, Dan Collier, Ed Holmes (Gregory Sebastien 69), Nile Dacres, Sam Matavesi, Herbie Stupple. Reps not used: Dan Pullinger, Andy Chesters.
Blaydon: Rhodri Adamson (Nathan Horsfall 78), Zach Kibirige, Tom Grimes, James Cooney, Frazer Wilson, Andrew Baggett, Nathan Horsfall (Joe Whyman 65), Sam White (Trevor Davison 40), David Nelson (Jack Beckwith 68), Andrew Foster (Sam White 65), Chris Wearmouth, William Witty, Keith Laughlin (c), Andrew Archibaild (Victor Guignouard 37), Gavin Jones.
Referee: Davis Thomas (RFU)
Scorers: Albion: Tries; Shepherd, Setter; Pens: Shepherd 2
Blaydon: Try: Archibald