PLYMOUTH ALBION 30 WHARFEDALE 10
PLYMOUTH Albion put their horror show at Ampthill behind them to claim an important win over relegation-threatened Wharfedale at Brickfields on Saturday.
The victory means Albion are guaranteed to be playing in National One themselves next season, even if, as expected, they are docked 30 points for going into administration.
It did look like the players were carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders in the opening quarter of the game.
Wharfedale, on the other hand, knowing they needed the win to keep alive their hopes of staying up, really came out fired up and took a 10-3 lead.
But Albion’s young team have shown time after time this season that they do have plenty of spirit and can play some good rugby.
And they did just that to score 20 points without reply to go in at the break 23-10 up thanks to tries by Christian Judge and Tom Putt and 13 points from the boot of Matt Shepherd.
Tom Bedford added a further try after the interval for Albion, who had to play a quarter of the game with 14 men after Gregory Sebastien was sin-binned in the first half and James Penman in the second.
Albion made two changes to their team that had been well beaten at Ampthill last weekend.
Scrum-half Cameron Setter was ruled out with an ankle injury, which meant Shepherd moved to nine and 18-year-old Putt came in at full-back for his first start since November.
The other change saw Ollie Dawe return at loose-head prop in place of Dan Pullinger, who dropped to the bench.
Wharfedale started really well. They got a penalty in the first minute and went for the corner but Albion defended the line-out well.
The visitors continued to press and they got another penalty on eight minutes, which Jamie Guy put through the uprights to edge his team 3-0 in front.
The Dalesman then tapped a penalty before Guy failed badly with a drop-goal attempt in the 10th minute.
Albion, though, looked to have rode out the early storm and pulled level a minute later when Shepherd kicked a long range penalty.
However, Wharfedale hit back straight away. A great drive got them to within a metre of the try line and then they went inside and scrum-half Phil Woodhead dummied to pass before sneaking over near the posts. Guy converted to put his side 10-3 up.
Albion, though, responded really well. Shepherd reduced the gap with a penalty on 17 minutes before five minutes later prop Judge scored only his second try of the season after good pressure from a line-out. Shepherd converted to put Albion 13-10 up.
It got better for the home team when Shepherd kicked another penalty on 30 minutes.
Four minutes later Plymouth scored a second try. Harrison Cully made a great break and looked like he was going to score from 50 metre out. However, he was just stopped a foot short but Albion recycled left and there was Putt to score on his first start since November.
Shepherd again converted to make it 23-10.
Albion had replacement Sebastien sin-binned on 37 minute for a dangerous tackle on Wharfedale full-back Harry Bulllough, but the home team defended well with 14 men to go in at the break 13 points ahead.
Plymouth started the second half really well and should have scored twice in the opening 10 minutes.
Robin Wedlake was just pushed into touch as he dived over in the left corner after good pressure before Ed Holmes came close.
The try Albion threatened eventually came in the 63 minutes after three penalties on the line. Albion opted for scrums before Stupple tapped the third one and after pressure Bedford, who had a good game in the centre, went over on the left. Shepherd, having a storming day with the boot, converted to make it 30-10.
Albion showed good defence to keep Wharfedale out, especially when they had hooker James Penman sin-binned in the 72nd minute.
ALBION: Tom Putt, Harrison Cully, Tom Bedford, Marc Koteczky, Robin Wedlake, Billy Searle, Matt Shepherd, Ollie Dawe, James Penman, Christian Judge, Dan Collier, Ed Holmes, Nile Dacres, Sam Matavesi, Herbie Stupple (capt). Reps: Dan Pullinger, Gregory Sebastien, Andy Chesters, Cameron Thompson, Jon Dawe
Tries: Judge 22, Putt 34, Bedford 62; Con: Shepherd 23, 35, 63; Pen: Shepherd 11, 17, 30
Yellow Cards: Sebestien 37, Penman 72
WHARFEDALE: Harry Bullough, Josh Prell, Andy Hodgson, Cameron Hudson, Oliver Cicognini, Jamie Guy, Phil Woodhead, Matt Beesley, Steve Graham, Ricardo Cano, Daniel Preston-Routledge, George Hedgley, Josh Burridge, Jack Barnard, Rob Baldwin. Reps: Joe Altham, Dan Stockdale, Ali Wade, Dan Solomi, Jimmy Bullough.
Tries: Woodhead 16; Con: Guy 16; Pen: Guy 8
Yellow cards: None
Referee: James Sullivan (RFU)