PLYMOUTH ALBION 27 HENLEY HAWKS 8
PLYMOUTH Albion overcame the sending off of influential centre Marc Koteczky after just 20 minutes to claim a bonus point win over relegation-threatened Henley Hawks.
Australian Koteczky was shown red for reacting to an off-the-ball incident involving Henley’s former Ivybridge flanker Tom Hall.
Hall appeared to kick out at Koteczky while he was on the floor, but he was only shown yellow for causing the flare up in the 20th minute of the National One match.
Graham Dawe’s in-form Plymouth side struggled to settle after that and only led 10-8 at the break, with Nile Dacres scoring their only try in the first half before Kotezcky was given his marching orders.
However, after the interval, fourth-placed Albion really upped their game and scored three tries courtesy of wingers Robin Wedlake and Ethan Ford (2).
Albion now find themselves just six points off second place with Hartpury College beating Blackheath.
Graham Dawe’s side now have a week off before a vital match away at Darlington Mowden Park.
Albion, who handed rare starts to Andy Chesters and Wedlake, took the lead on five minutes after some good pressure from the kick-off.
Henley’s former Albion full-back Jamie Davies kicked straight into the hands of Dan Collier, who in turn fed Dan Pullinger. The prop could have maybe got over the line himself, but he unselfishly off-loaded to Nile Dacres, who crossed for his 10th try of the season. Matt Shepherd converted.
The visitors thought they had scored one of their own five minutes later after pressure from a line-out but the officials ruled they had knocked on right on the line.
But the try the visitors threatened did come in the 18th minute when former Exmouth hooker Tom Emery went over from close range after pressure from a line-out. Albion initially defended well but the Hawks eventually found a gap. Bazil Strange missed the conversion by hitting post.
Within minutes of that, the game exploded with a fight breaking out in the middle of the field between a handful of players. The match continued but eventually the referee stopped play and after speaking to his touch-judge he sin-binned Henley flanker Hall before sending off Koteczky.
The Australian’s red card shuck Albion, who struggled to settle after that.
Henley took the lead a couple of minutes later when Strang kicked a penalty.
Albion, though, eventually settled. Cameron Setter produced a good break on the half hour mark and fed the impressive Sam Matavesi, but he could not find his man inside Henley’s half.
But Plymouth went in at the break 10-8 with Shepherd kicking a penalty on 34 minutes.
The home side came out in determined mood for the second period. Dacres was close to another try just after the break before Albion did get a second touch-down.
Albion got a penalty and opted from the scrum. From the set-play they attacked down the blind-side and there was Cornwall winger Wedlake to go over for his first Plymouth try.
Shepherd just missed the conversion but Albion increased their lead seven minutes later when Ford crossed for a great score. Dacres and Searle did well before Ford broke through. He dummied to pass but went himself to sixth try of the season.
Plymouth were totally dominating the scrums and eventually controversial referee Parrot, who did not make many friends at Brickfields on Saturday, lost patience and sin-binned Henley prop Dave Manning.
Albion continued to press but they just could not seem to get the all-important fourth try.
But, with time running out, they eventually got it when Ford went over on the right after good play by Wedlake.
Albion: Matt Shepherd, Ethan Ford, Jake Murphy (capt), Marc Kotecezky, Robin Wedlake, Billy Searle, Cameron Setter, Ollie Dawe, Rupert Freestone, Dan Pullinger, Dan Collier, Nile Dacres, Andy Chesters, Sam Matavesi, Herbie Stupple. Reps: James Penman, Christian Judge, Cameron Thompson, Harrison Cully, Tom Bedford.
Henley: Jamie Davies, Xavier Andre, Liam O’Neill, Connor Dolan, Jake Randall, Basil Strang, Tom Allen, Dave Manning, Tom Emery, Henry Sandys, Dave Clements, Charles Davey, Tom Hall, Rob Bell, Julian Watkins. Reps: Billy Moss, Curtis Langdon, Scott White, Louis Flynn, Ben Palmer
Referee: Dan Parrot (RFU)
Scorers: Albion: Tries: Ford 2, Dacres, Wedlake; Cons: Shepherd 2; Pen: Shepherd
Henley: Try: Emerry; Pen: Strang
Cards: Albion: Red: Kotezcky; Henley: Yellow: Hall, Manning