Albion hold off Scottish rally to end losing streak
PLYMOUTH Albion ended a five-game losing run last night with a nerve-wracking win over London Scottish at a rain-soaked Brickfields.
Albion did not look in any danger when they charged into a 21-3 half-time lead thanks to tries by Tom Bowen and Sean-Michael Stephen and 11 points from the boot of Paul Roberts.
Their half-time advantage could have been greater as Scottish were poor.
In that opening 40 minutes it was clear to see why the Exiles have the leakiest defence in the league.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
But Albion deserve credit as their handling and contact skills were much better than in previous weeks, despite terrible conditions.
However, after the break Albion lost their way and Scottish, who went into the game on the back of four defeats, gave them a real fright and took the game right to the final whistle.
But Nat Saumi's side held on for a vital win, although Scottish did return to London with a bonus point.
Albion made eight changes – six enforced – to the team who had lost at Jersey the previous week.
Canadians Aaron Carpenter and Brett Beukeboom were away on international duty, and dual-registered England Under-20 stars Henry Slade, Jack Arnott and Luke Cowan-Dickie had been recalled by parent club Exeter Chiefs for their LV=Cup against London Welsh tomorrow, while Paul Bailey was out after breaking his hand at Jersey.
Their absence allowed Rupeni Nasiga, Harrison Tovey, Rhodri McAtee, Bowen, David Morton and Keni Fisilau to come into the team, while Toby Howley-Berridge replaced Lewis Warner on the wing and Ruairi Cushion was preferred to Paul Rowley at scrum-half.
Scottish included Albion's top points scorer last season, James Love, in their starting line-up, but fellow ex-Plymouth player Tyler Hotson was not available as he was also playing for Canada against Samoa last night in north Wales.
The game started in heavy rain and Scottish had the first chance to score in the fourth minute when they were awarded a penalty at a scrum just inside Albion's half.
Love went for the long-range effort but his kick fell short and wide.
From that miss Albion went and scored two tries and a penalty inside four minutes to take a stranglehold on the game.
Their first score came following a poor kick by Scottish.
Albion gathered and ran it back. The ball came to Fijian Nasiga, who could have been playing at Twickenham against England today had Albion released him, and he put a grubber kick it that deflected off a Scottish leg and fell perfectly for Bowen to pick up and score his fourth try of the season.
Roberts converted the try to put Albion 7-0 up.
Within two minutes Albion had made it 12-0 with a try by captain Stephen after Nasiga had put him clear.
Roberts could not convert the second score but he did kick a penalty two minutes later after the home side came close to scoring a third try when Sam Hocking cut right through the visitors' defence.
Hocking had no support so he kicked through and chased, but Scottish full-back Jim Thompson blocked him from getting the ball and he was sin-binned and Albion got the penalty.
At 15-0 down and with a man less, it did not look good for the Exiles, but they actually did better with 14 men and scored their only points of the first half when Love kicked a penalty after Albion had knocked on in their own 22 and then compounded their error by infringing.
Apart from that turnover, Albion's handling and contact skills were far better than they had been for the past month and they restored their 15-point advantage when Roberts kicked another penalty on 26 minutes.
Scottish were giving away penalties galore and Roberts kicked another on 35 minutes to make it 21-3.
The visitors hardly threatened Albion's try line.
Their only plan in the first half was to kick to the corner and hope their wingers could get there, which they never did.
Roberts had the chance to increase Albion's lead further on the stroke of half-time but missed another penalty.
Scottish had not looked like scoring in the first period but they did with their first real chance of the second.
From a line-out in the 53rd minute the visitors pressed and after two minutes on Albion's line, Scottish went left and Thompson found a gap to squeeze over. Love converted to make it 21-10.
That try seemed to send nerves around the Albion team, who started making silly mistakes again.
Scottish reduced the gap further when Love kicked a penalty on 60 minutes after Albion were penalised at a scrum.
Albion tried to settle their nerves by going for goal from a penalty at a scrum seven minutes later, but Roberts missed it after hitting the outside of the post.
The home side messed up from that penalty miss, knocking on in their own 22 and Scottish got a penalty from the scrum.
Love went for goal and many thought he had scored but the touch judges behind the goal said his effort had not gone through the uprights.
It was a let-off for Albion who would have only been five points in front had he kicked it.
Albion thought they had sealed the win when Roberts kicked a penalty with five minutes to go to make it 24-13. Scottish set up a nerve-wracking final few minutes by scoring a drive try through Paul Spivey which Love converted to make it a one-score game.
The visitors pressed in added-on time, but Albion held out.
ALBION: 15 Rhodri McAtee, 14 Toby Howley-Berridge, 13 Keni Fisilau, 12 Bevon Armitage, 11 Tom Bowen, 10 Paul Roberts, 9 Ruairi Cushion, 1 David Morton (Jack Andrew 65), 2 Jon Vickers (Tom Cowan-Dickie 79), 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 4 Rupeni Nasiga, 5 Harrison Tovey (Ien Ascoft-Leigh 80), 6 Sam Hocking, 7 Wayne Sprange, 8 Sean-Michael Stephen (capt). Reps not used: Paul Rowley, Ben Rogers.
LONDON SCOTTISH: 15 Jim Thompson, 14 James Love, 13 Ollie Grove (Andy Reay h/t), 12 PJ Gidlow (capt), 11 Gerard Mullen, 10 Philip Godman, 9 Richard Bolt, 1 Mark Irish, 2 Adam Kwasnicki, 3 Colin Quigley (Alex Mackenzie 48), 4 Paul Spivey, 5 Alex Karanias, 6 Chevvy Pennycook, 7 Ben Lonergan (Josh Brown 39), 8 Ben Russell. Reps: Marcus Bloomberg, Lewis Calder, Jamie Stevenson, Dave McCall.
REFEREE: Darren Gamage (RFU)
SCORERS: ALBION: Tries: Bowen, Stephen; Con: Roberts; Pens: Roberts 4
SCOTTISH: Try: Thompson, Spivey; Cons: Love 2; Pen: Love 2
CARDS: Scottish: Thompson (yellow 12 mins)
Championship: Doncaster 21 Bedford 22, Newcastle 29 Nottingham 9