Pirates return to haunt Albion in B&I Cup defeat
KYLE MARRIOTT and Tom Kessell made try scoring returns to Brickfields as an experienced Cornish Pirates team powered to victory over a makeshift Plymouth Albion side in last night's British & Irish Cup match.
The Pirates fielded a far stronger line-up than injury-hit Albion, who made 14 changes to their team who had played Doncaster in the league at the weekend, and it showed.
Albion's young side battle hard and were only 12-0 down at half-time, but the Pirates' pack power really showed in the second half.
It looked like men against boys at times.
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Albion, whose priority is to try and make the Championship play-offs, did defend well against constant pressure, but never really troubled the Pirates line.
The home side suffered a blow before kick-off when Canadian international Tyler Hotson failed to arrive back in Plymouth from World Cup duty in time to take his place in the team.
It meant Albion, who have an important league match against London Scottish at Brickfields on Saturday, were not able to field one back five forward who had ever started a Championship match.
Veteran Mark Manton, better known as a prop, took Hotson's place in the team, but didn't make it to the end of the first half.
Winger Tyson Lewis was the only Albion player who started last night who also lined up in last Saturday's league match.
However, Plymouth were able to welcome back Paul Bailey and Mark Lee from injury.
Teenager Rob Avery-Wright was handed his first competitive start for Albion at fly-half alongside Dale Farnham.
In contrast to Plymouth, the Pirates, who put 50 points on Bristol in their last B&I Cup match, named a starting line-up which included established Championship players Rob Cook, Rhodri McAtee, Wes Davies, Carl Rimmer, Mike Myerscough and former Albion captain Marriott.
Marriott was one of two ex-Plymouth players in their team, with Kessell starting at scrum-half.
They also had David Ward, Rudi Brits and Ian Nimmo on the bench.
The Pirates had the chance to open the scoring in the third minute when they were awarded a penalty in the 22 after pressure from a line-out. However, Cook surprisingly missed the kick at goal.
Albion had a good spell of possession after that, but they were eventually penalised for holding on and the Pirates kicked for the corner and scored from the line-out.
After a good drive by the bigger Pirates pack, Marriott got the ball down on his return to Brickfields. Cook converted from the touchline to make it 7-0.
Albion's makeshift side did not let their heads drop and on 24 minutes they had a great chance when Mark Lee did well to set up Lewis.
Lewis showed his pace but he was stopped five metres from the line and eventually Albion knocked on trying to recycle.
It was a good bit of play by Albion and showed the threat their backs could pose.
Six minutes later it was Pirates full-back Cook who showed his ability to brilliantly cut through and score the visitors' second try. However, he was unable to add the conversion.
Mark Lee tried an ambitious drop-goal from halfway on 32 minutes but it was miles wide and not high enough.
Albion spent the rest of the first half on their own line and the Pirates' backs tried everything to score.
The visitors had six five-metre scrums on Albion's line after they were twice held up over the line and the home side had given away penalty and penalty.
But Albion defended brilliantly and eventually the Pirates knocked on. That was a big psychological boost for Albion .
However, five minutes into injury-time Albion were reduced to 14 players when Dale Farnham was yellow carded.
Pirates did have another chance deep in injury time but Myerscough was held up.
Albion would have been pleased to have gone in at half-time only 12-0 down, but straight after half-time they conceded a third try when old boy Kessell scored near the posts after linking up brilliantly with Wes Davies down the blindside. Cook added the conversion to make it 19-0.
The Pirates brought on Paul Andrew in the 47th minute to face his brother Jack.
The visitors continued to press and Cook looked dangerous every time he got the ball.
But Albion defended well. However, eventually the Pirates pressure was going to tell, but Albion will be disappointed how their fourth try came about.
The home side had done the hard work and turned the Pirates over and got a scrum on their own line.
But Avery-Wright sliced his clearance badly giving the visitors a line-out seven metres out and from it they drove and Tom Cowan-Dickie scored their fourth try. Cook again missed the conversion.
Albion did have a good chance when they were awarded two penalties.
The first, they went for the five-metre line-out but they could not drive the Pirates back. However, they then got another penalty and pressed.
But as they tried to put Lewis in at the corner the ball was intercepted by McAtee and suddenly Albion found themselves back on their line after giving away a penalty stopping the Pirates' winger.
The Pirates went for the corner again and their pack drove with Paul Andrew scoring close to the posts and Cook converting.
Albion's young side had defended well but they clearly tired and the Pirates added a sixth try in the 72nd when McAtee did well before offloading to Ryan Western to score in the left corner.
Albion: Mark Lee (Gareth Espin 44), Steve Johns (capt), Cameron Mitchell, Paul Bailey, Tyson Lewis, Rob Avery-Wright (Ollie Raynor 70), Dale Farnham (Paul Rowley 71), Jack Andrew, Davy McGregor (Rupert Freestone 40+1), Ryan Hopkins, Mark Manton (Sam Matavesi 40+1), Dylan Flashman, Owain Lloyd, James Harris (Charlie Grace 58), Dan Lee (Nick Selway 64).
Pirates: Rob Cook (Matt Shepperd 71), Rhodri McAtee, Ryan Western, Sam Hill, Wes Davies, Aaron Penberthy, Tom Kessell, Ryan Storer (Rudi Brits 71), Tom Cowan-Dickie (Dave Ward 63), Carl Rimmer (Pual Andrew 47), Matt Smith, Mike Myerscough (Ian Nimmo 71), Mike Rawling (Josh Lord 53), Kyle Marriott (capt), Ben Maidment. Reps not used: David Doherty.
Referee: Phil Davies (RFU)
Scorers: Pirates: Tries: Marriott, Cook, Kessell, Cowan-Dickie, Andrew, Western; Cons: Cook 3, Penberthy
Albion star man: Owain Lloyd
Other results: Last night: British & Irish Cup: Rotherham 17 Nottingham 22, Doncaster 24 Leeds 22, London Welsh 30 Bedford 33, Bristol 10 Moseley 14, Esher 43 London Scottish 10