Albion suffer home defeat in British and Irish Cup
PLYMOUTH ALBION...22 MUNSTER A...26
PLYMOUTH Albion suffered their first home defeat of the season when they were beaten by holders Munster A in the British & Irish Cup on Saturday afternoon.
Albion had more possession and territory than their Irish visitors, but Munster were clinical at taking their chances, scoring three tries in the first half.
Nat Saumi's side did show character to come back from 15-3 down and they set up a thrilling climax by pulling to within four points with six minutes of normal time to go, buy they could not get the try that would win them the game.
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After last week's heavy loss at Bedford, Albion opted to name a stronger than usual team for the cup.
Their starting line-up included five full internationals, with Aaron Carpenter, Rupeni Nasiga and Keni Fisilau returning to the team to join Brett Beukeboom and Sean-Michael Stephen. It was club record holder Fisilau's first start of the season.
There were also first starts of the campaign for dual-registered Exeter Chiefs hooker Tom Cowan-Dickie and flanker Sam Matavesi. Youngsters Sam Jones, Ben Rogers and Joe Bartlett were included on the bench, along with the more experienced Paul Bailey, Wayne Sprangle and Jon Vickers.
Munster, whose first team were playing French side Racing Metre 92 in the Heineken Cup, included Felix Jones, Scott Deasy and Ian Nagle, who have all had significant first team experience, in their side.
Albion dominated the opening minutes of the game.
They have four kickable penalties in the first six minutes, but on each occasion went for the corner. However, Munster managed to defend them all.
The Irish side did not get out of their half until the ninth minute, but three minutes later they took the lead with a great counter-attack move. Munster turned Albion over from a lineout in their own half and broke quickly with JJ Hanrahan making good ground.
Eventually the ball came to full-back Jones, who did well to put winger Corey Hircock away to score on the right. Hanrahan could not add the conversion.
Four minutes later Albion, who had dominated possession and territory, found themselves 12-0 down when Hircock scored again after the home side gave away two penalties to allow Munster to get into their 22.
Hanrahan did convert this try. Munster though found themselves down to 14 men in the 19th minute when they had Nagle sin-binned for a professional foul. Roberts kicked the resultant penalty to make it 12-3 but then Hanrahan kicked one of his own to restore his side's 12-point advantage.
Despite having lots of chances Albion could not score while they had a man advantage.
They again turned down a kickable penalty and it looked like their chance of scoring had gone, but in the 36th minute they got a bit of fortune they needed to get back into the match.
After failing to break Munster down, Roberts put in a grubber kick. Slade chased with a Munster player, both claimed they had got the first touch on the ball.
The referee was not sure, but after speaking to the touch-judge he awarded Albion the try, which Roberts brilliantly converted to pull Albion to within five points.
But almost straight away Munster scored a third try. Albion allowed the Irish side to get into their 22 with two penalties before fly-half Scott Deasy put in a cross-field kick which found lock Nagle waiting in the right corner.
He flopped over the try line to make it 20-10. But Albion had the last word of the half-time when Canadian lock Brett Beukeboom scored from a diving maul in injury-time to make the score at half-time 20-15 to Munster.
After the interval, Albion had Beukeboom sin-binned for blocking a Munster player and Hanrahan kicked the penalty to put Munster two scores in front.
Hircock thought he had scored a hat-trick when he went over in the right corner on 60 minutes but the try was ruled out for a forward pass from Jones.
Hanrahan kicked another penalty on 70 minutes to make the score 26-15.
It looked over for Albion but they set up a grandstand finish when Aaron Carpenter scored from close range in the 74th minute, which Roberts converted.
Hanrahan could have made the game safe with a penalty almost straight away, but he missed the effort as a hooter blew as he stepped up to strike the ball.
Albion looked for a winning score but they could not find one.
Albion: Henry Slade, Lewis Warner, Toby Howley-Berridge, Keni Fisilau, Jack Arnott, Paul Roberts, Ruairi Cushion, Jack Andrew, Tom Cowan-Dickie, David Morton, Brett Beukeboom, Rupeni Nasiga, Sean-Michael Stephen (capt), Sam Matavesi, Aaron Carpenter . Reps: Joe Bartlett, Paul Bailey, Wayne Sprangle, Ben Rogers, Jon Vickers, Harrison Tovey, Sam Jones.
Munster A: Felix Jones, Ronan O'Mahony, Cian Bohane, JJ Hanrahan, Corey Hircock, Scott Deasy, Duncan Williams, John Ryan, Sean Henry (capt), Alan Cotter, Brian Hayes, Ian Nagle, Shane Buckley, Barry O'Mahony, Sean Rennison. Reps: Duncan Casey, Christy Condon, Philip Donnelan, Cathal O'Flahearty, Brian O'Hara, Cathal Sheridan, Richard Mullane.
Referee: Gywn Morris (Wales)