GRAHAM DAWE insisted Plymouth Albion’s 16-5 home win over Blaydon in horrible conditions at Brickfields on Saturday was down to a real team effort.
Matt Shepherd and Cameron Setter scored tries for Plymouth, with Shepherd also kicking two penalties, as they claimed their ninth win in 10 matches.
“It was a hard afternoon’s graft in the wind, rain and mud,” said Albion’s director of rugby Dawe. “But it’s something we are getting used to.
“The team worked extremely hard against a side who have a very good scrum and a very good maul. There are very few errors in Blaydon’s attack game, so we were really chuffed to come away with a win.
“The game was always in doubt until the Cameron Setter’s try at the end.”
He added: “It was one of those games that it took a team to win it, not individuals.
“It took a team of 20 guys and the water carriers. It was really a big effort from the whole team. That was the most pleasing aspect.”
The National One match was in doubt after heavy rain before kick-off, but both teams wanted to play, particularly with Blaydon having flown down from Newcastle for a three-day trip.
But Dawe said: “It wasn’t in doubt as far as I was concerned.”
The Brickfields pitch has taken a real hammering this season, with the home games against Coventry, Hull, Ampthill and Darlington Mowden Park also played in poor conditions.
“The guys have looked after this pitch really well,” said Dawe. “The most important thing for the last month has been to stay off the pitch as much as possible and it did well. It has had a far old hammering over the last three months, but has stood up well.”
Fourth-placed Albion had lost to Hull in January in similar conditions, which is their only defeat since November 21.
Dawe felt his team showed on Saturday that they had learned from that Hull match.
“The thought process was good on Saturday,” said Dawe. “Sometimes the execution was not always there, but the decisions were right the majority of the time.
“I thought the players stuck well to the plan they wanted to carry out.”
When asked if he felt the conditions were a leveller, Dawe said: “For sure that is a possibility, but it would be disrespectful to them (Blaydon) to say that.”
Albion dominated territory and possession first half but only led 6-0 at the break thanks to two Shepherd penalties. However, they could easily have had three tries.
“If the pitch was five metres shorter we would have had a few scores,” said Dawe.
“We then had to play the elements second half and we had the pressure of not having a big cushion. That pressure mounts in the back of your head. One mistake could have lost you the game.
“It was a very hard second half to play.
“They (Blaydon) had nothing to lose and they really went for it. They capitalised on a lot of our errors.”
Dawe does feel his team’s kick game has improved during the season.
“On Saturday it was important to keep our kick game good,” he said.
“I think that is one of things we have got in our locker now and consistently go to it when we have to.
“With Billy Searle, Matt Shepherd and Elliot Bale we have the wherewithal to keep chasing field position and if the conditions allow we have Marc Koteczky’s pass of his left or right hand to open the field up as well. Hopefully, that balance continues to stand us in good stead.”