Albion let lead slip as they lose at home to Nottingham
Plymouth Albion...22 Nottingham...31
PLYMOUTH Albion let a 15-0 lead slip as they suffered their first home league defeat of the season against third-placed Nottingham.
Nat Saumi's side, who had lost their last three league and cup matches, made a stunning start with Jack Arnott scoring two tries in the first 15 minutes with fly-half Paul Roberts also kicking a conversion and a penalty.
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But then Nottingham scored four tries without reply – two either side of half-time, including a controversial penalty try – to go 26-15 up.
Albion did respond with a try by Bevon Armitage to close the gap to just four points but Nottingham were not to be denied and scored a fifth try to seal the game.
The home side did have chances to grab a fourth try that would have given them two bonus points but they could not convert them.
Albion reverted back to a more familiar line-up after making changes for their two British & Irish Cup matches.
There were just four changes to the team that lost at Bedford in their last league game. Prop Luke Cowan-Dickie and scrum-half Ruairi Cushion were ruled out with injuries and they were replaced by David Morton and fit-again Paul Rowley.
The other changes saw Jack Arnott return in place of centre Toby Howley-Berridge, who had been struggling with ankle problem and Aaron Carpenter came into the pack for Ien Ascroft-Leigh.
Albion made a brilliant start after scored a try after just 28 seconds.
Saumi's side kicked off and Nottingham gathered on their 22 but they kicked poorly straight to the home side and eventually the ball came to young winger Jack Arnott, who kicked forward into acres of space and won the race to gather and score. Roberts converted to make it 7-0.
And that became 10-0 three minutes later when Roberts kicked a penalty.
After hardly touching the ball in the opening four minutes, Nottingham gradually got into the game.
James Alridge had the chance to reduce the deficit with a penalty on six minutes but he missed.
Nottingham got another penalty four minutes later and this time went for the corner. Their drive was stopped illegally close to the line by Albion and the visitors went for another line-out. From this one they were eventually held up over the line, but they were then penalised at the five-metre scrum.
And from that penalty Albion went right up the other end and scored. They kicked to touch near halfway and won the line-out. They then went wide and Henry Slade made a good break before offloading to his young city team-mate Arnott, who showed tremendous pace to score a second try.
That made it 15-0 but Nottingham finished the half strongly.
The visitors dominated possession and they eventually got the try they had been threatening when Dan Montague went over from close range after good play by Alex Lewington. Alridge missed the conversion, so Albion were still 10 points up.
But in the 35th minute Nottingham were held up over the line again and this time they did make the five-metre scrum tell.
After it went down three times Nottingham were awarded a freekick. They opted for another scrum and got the push on before Albion allegedly illegally stopped them. Despite boos from the crowd, referee Greg MacDonald ran under the posts to award a penalty try, which Alridge converted to make it 15-12.
Roberts had the chance to give Albion a six point lead at the break with a late penalty, but he just missed it.
Alridge missed a kick in front of the posts at the start of the second half before Nottingham scored two quick tries to take a strangle hold of the game.
The first came from Jack Cobden after Nottingham ran the ball back well from an Albion 22 drop-out. Alridge converted to make 19-15.
And almost straight from the restart David Jackson went over for his customary score against Albion after great play by hooker Joe Duffey. Alridge, kicking better in the second half, converted to make it 26-15.
Having scored four tries without reply, the momentum looked with Nottingham but Albion dug deep and got back into the game with a good score by centre Bevon Armitage after intense pressure on Nottingham's line. Roberts converted to make it 26-22.
Most people inside Brickfields felt the next score would probably win the game.
Albion had a couple of good chances after going for line-outs from penalties but they could not get over and 13 minutes from time Alex Lewington scored a good counterattack try for the visitors.
Albion lost the ball just inside Nottingham's half and the Green and Whites broke at pace with Lewington on hand to finish the move off.
Nat Saumi's side knew another try would at least give them two bonus points and they nearly got it when replacement Keni Fisilau made a great break, but he was just stopped 15 metres out and he had no support.
Albion: 15 Henry Slade, 14 Lewis Warner, 13 Paul Bailey, 12 Bevon Armitage, 11 Jack Arnott, 10 Paul Roberts, 9 Paul Rowley, 1 David Morton, 2 Jon Vickers, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 4 Brett Beukeboom, 5 Sean-Michael Stephen (capt) 6 Sam Hocking, 7 Wayne Sprangle, 8 Aaron Carpenter. Reps: Joe Bartlett, Keni Fisilau, Ben Rogers, Jack Andrew, Tom Cowan-Dickie, Harrison Tovey, Sam Matavesi.
Nottingham: 15 Andrew Savage, 14 David Jackson, 13 Joe Cobden, 12 Joe Munro, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 James Alridge, 9 Sean Romans, 1 Matt Parr, 2 Joe Duffey, 3 Michael Holford, 4 Dan Montague, 5 Nic Rouse, 6 Rupert Copper, 7 Brent Wilson (capt), 8 Alex Shaw. Reps: Scott Wright, Jon Harris, Joe Quinn, Tom Calladine, Finlay Barnham, Rory Lynn, Jack Bradford.
Referee: Greg MacDonald (RFU)
FULL REACTION IN MONDAY'S HERALD