Albion frustrated as they let 15-point lead slip at home
THE looks on the Albion players' faces as they walked off the pitch at Brickfields said it all.
You could see frustration and anger written all over their brows.
And that reaction was hardly surprising after letting a 15-0 lead slip to lose their first league game at home this season.
No team likes losing in front of their own fans, but to do it after being three scores in front just makes it worse.
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But Albion just can't seem to defend at the moment.
The team have proved they can score tries but nearly everyone in the league now knows that their defence is breachable, particularly off turnover ball and from set pieces.
Albion have conceded 25 tries in their last four league and cup matches.
Five of them came on Saturday against a Nottingham side who showed plenty of character to claim only their second away win of the season and their biggest-ever at Brickfields.
Albion do have to tighten up and stop giving the ball away easily. They also need to make sure their set piece is spot on as the top teams in this division will punish you if it isn't.
Albion's players will know they should not have lost on Saturday from the position they were in.
The added frustration is that they did not even pick up two bonus points, for scoring four tries and finishing within seven, which they had a chance to grab late on when replacement Keni Fisilau made a great break but he had no support with the try line within sight.
After such a great start to the season, Albion are going through something of a tough spell.
They have lost their last four league and cup outings but they have got two winnable games now against Jersey and London Scottish before a week off and they really need to secure points from those games with tough matches against Bristol and Newcastle coming up during the international window.
Nat Saumi's side could not have asked for a better start to a game than they got on Saturday.
It took them just 28 seconds to score a try through young winger Jack Arnott.
Nottingham gathered Albion's kick-off on their own 22 but the visitors then kicked poorly and the home side made them pay. The ball was sent wide to Arnott and the former St Boniface pupil saw Nottingham had no one back and put in a kick which he easily won the race for to score only his second league try.
Paul Roberts added the conversion and he also kicked a penalty three minutes later to put Albion 10-0 up after four minutes.
It was a dream start for Albion on a bitterly cold afternoon.
Nottingham looked shell shocked. The normally reliable James Alridge had a nightmare first half with the boot and he missed a penalty on six minutes.
But slowly the visitors, who nearly gifted Albion captain Sean-Michael Stephen a 30th birthday interception try early on, began to settle.
In the 11th minute they were held up over the line after two good line-outs. But from the resultant five-metre scrum, Nottingham were penalised and Albion went right up the other end and scored.
Albion found touch from the penalty and won the line-out before Henry Slade made a great break before off-loading to fellow city-born back Arnott to score a second try.
But the warning signs were there for Albion. Nottingham were beginning to dominate possession and territory and it was not too much of a surprise when the visitors finally did score a try.
It came in the 25th minute. Albion lost possession and Nottingham broke with Alex Lewington doing really well before Dan Montague managed to sneak over from close range to make it 15-5.
Nottingham were held up over the line again in the 35th minute but this time they did make the five-metre scrum pay.
Three times the set piece went down before referee Greg MacDonald gave the visitors a free-kick.
They opted for another scrum and got the push on before Albion allegedly illegally stopped them scoring. Referee MacDonald had no doubt Nottingham would have scored and ran under the posts to award a penalty try, which Japan international Alridge converted to make it 15-12, much to the disapproval of the home crowd.
Roberts did have the chance to edge Albion six points in front at the break with another penalty, but this time he missed.
Opposite kicker Alridge, usually so reliable, then missed a penalty in front of the posts straight after the break.
But in the end it worked out well for Nottingham as they scored from the resultant drop-out.
Poor Albion defending allowed the visitors to break and eventually centre Jack Cobden went over for a third try, which Alridge converted.
And almost straight away Nottingham added a fourth try through David Jackson, who seems to have a habit of scoring against Albion. He benefited from great work by visiting hooker Joe Duffey.
Alridge converted to make it 26-15 and leave the Brickfields crowd stunned.
But after being outplayed for so long, suddenly Albion came to life again and they got back into the match when Sam Hocking put Bevon Armitage in to score under the posts which Roberts converted.
With just four points separating the teams, the next score was going to be crucial.
Albion had chances but wasted them – the worst one when they threw the ball wide to Arnott when it was clear he was going to be pushed straight into touch 15 metres from the line.
Unfortunately, the next try – and winning score – did go to Nottingham.
Albion lost the ball just inside the visitors half and Nottingham picked up and broke at pace with Lewington eventually going over.
The home side, who brought on prop Ben Rogers for his league debut, could have at least got something out of the game when in the first minute of added on time Fisilau made a stunning break but he had no support and he just could not slip past the last defender.