Albion suffer heavy loss at Bedford
Bedford...55 Plymouth Albion...17
PLYMOUTH Albion suffered their heaviest defeat of the year when they were beaten 55-17 by Bedford at Goldington Road on Saturday.
Albion went into the match high on confidence, having won four of their opening five matches, but they never really looked like beating Bedford, who went into the game unbeaten and sitting second in the table.
The Blues ran in eight tries – four in each half – as Albion had an afternoon to forget.
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Albion had found themselves 29-3 down at the break but they did manage two tries in the second half through forwards Sam Hocking and Jon Vickers.
Nat Saumi's side now have a two-week break for the British & Irish Cup before they entertain Nottingham at Brickfields.
Albion made one change to their starting line-up that beat Rotherham 15-3 the week before, with Lewis Warner coming in on the wing for his Championship debut in place of fellow youngster Jack Arnott.
There was also a change on the bench for Albion, with Tom Cowan-Dickie dropping out due to injury and Jamie Salter replacing him.
Bedford were missing former Albion lock Ben Gulliver due to injury, but fellow ex-Plymouth player James Pritchard did line-up for the Blues.
Both captains were Canadian internationals, with Pritchard leading Bedford and Sean-Michael Stephen skippering Albion.
Albion had a first half to forget, conceding four tries.
However, they had the first two chances to score.
First, Henry Slade tried a long-range penalty on seven minutes, which fell short, before Paul Roberts missed with a closer range effort two minutes later.
But once Bedford settled they looked dangerous, particularly on turnover balls.
Bevon Armitage had to rescue Albion on 11 minutes when the visitors dropped the ball attacking and Bedford kicked up field and nearly won the race to score.
Josh Bassett also came close to scoring before the Blues did get their first try. It came from a line-out move on the right. Initially Bedford drove but eventually the ball went down the blindside to winger Stephenson, who showed great speed, skill and strength to score. Pritchard was unable to convert that try.
Four minutes later Bedford added a second, again from a line-out. Albion gave away a penalty in Bedford's half and the Blues kicked deep and from the set-piece move fellow winger Bassett scored, which Pritchard converted.
Pritchard then kicked a penalty to make it 15-0.
Albion did reduce the gap with a Roberts penalty on 26 minutes, but Bedford were not finished.
The Blues unbelievably wasted a gilt-edged chance to score on 30 minutes. Again Albion knocked on and the Blues kicked up field. The home side won the race to it and after Henry Staff and Brendan Burke had come close the ball came out to lock Alex Rae, who appeared certain to score under the posts. But somehow he knocked on as he dived over the line.
That was a let off for Albion, but they did not use it. They won a penalty but had the kick charged down and Bedford pressed.
Eventually the home side got a penalty and they went for the line-out. Albion did well to stop them driving over but the Blues went wide and Pritchard found a big gap to go over. He also converted his try to make it 22-3.
And it got worse for Albion before half-time, with Greg Gillanders scoring after a great move by the Blues. Pritchard converted to make the score at the break 29-3 to the home side.
Albion did come out well after the break and had a lot of pressure in the Blues half. Slade was denied by a monster tackle by Pritchard on 44 minutes but eventually the visitors did cut the gap when Hocking went over for his sixth try of the season from close range 10 minutes later.
Albion went looking for another try but they gifted one to the Blues in their haste.
After a good run by replacement Rupeni Nasiga, Albion passed the ball straight to the Blues on halfway and the home side broke with Henry Staff scoring their fifth try, which Pritchard converted to make it 36-10.
Albion did close the gap to 19 points with a try from close range by Vickers, but Bedford finished strongly.
Ben Ramson added a sixth try for Bedford, which Pritchard converted, after replacement Keni Fisilau had a chip over the Blues' defence intercepted.
And then Albion gifted the home team another try eight minutes later when Beukeboom lost the ball just over halfway and Sharp scored, which Pritchard again converted.
And deep in injury-time Bedford rubbed salt in Albion's wounds with an eight try through former Plymouth player Pritchard, who had a fine game.
Bedford: 15 James Pritchard (capt), 14 James Stephenson, 13 Brendan Burke, 12 Henry Staff, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Mark Atkinson, 9 Luke Baldwin, 1 Darren Fearn, 2 Neil Cochrane, 3 Phil Boulton, 4 Mike Howard, 5 Alex Rae, 6 Greg Gillanders, 7 Sacha Harding, 8 Paul Tupai. Reps: 16 Dan Seal, 17 Ben Cooper, 18 Tom Armes, 19 Darren Fox, 20 Darryl Veenendaal, 21 Jake Sharp, 22 Ben Ransom.
Albion: 15 Henry Slade, 14 Paul Bailey, 13 Toby Howley-Berridge, 12 Bevon Armitage, 11 Lewis Warner, 10 Paul Roberts, 9 Ruairi Cushion, 1 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 2 Jon Vickers, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 4 Brett Beukeboom, 5 Ien Ascroft-Leigh, 6 Wayne Sprangle, 7 Sam Hocking, 8 Sean-Michael Stephen (capt). 16 Rhodri McAtee, 17 David Morton, 18 Rupeni Nasiga, 19 Jack Andrew, 20 James Salter, 21 Aaron Carpenter, 22 Keni Fisilau.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth