Plymouth Albion suffer ninth defeat in a row as Jersey win at Brickfields
Plymouth Albion...15 Jersey...19
PLYMOUTH Albion suffered a ninth consecutive league debut when they were beaten by second-from-bottom Jersey at Brickfields on Saturday.
The defeat leaves Albion looking over their shoulders with four games to go, but as bottom club Doncaster also lost they should have enough points to stay up.
Although Albion started and finished the game well, Jersey, who needed the win even more than Nat Saumi's side, probably deserved to win the game, outscoring their hosts three tries to two.
After weathering an early storm, Jersey re-grouped and went in at the break 5-3 up and they then scored two quick tries at the start of the second period to lead 19-3.
Albion did hit back late in the game, that did not finish until 5.15pm due to a host of injuries, with touch downs from replacements Tom Cowan-Dickie and Tom Bowen, but they could not find a winning try right at the end.
Saumi's side now have a week off before a trip to London Scottish on March 23.
Albion, who had made poor starts in their last four matches, came out fired up. They dominated the opening 20 minutes but they only had three points to show for it.
They had the chance to take the lead in the fourth minute when captain Ruairi Cushion did really well to pick up the ball from an under pressure retreating scrum and break. He made 40 metres before Keni Fisilau, back in the starting line-up, did well down the right. Eventually Albion, who handed a full debut to Irish back Declan Cusask, got a penalty 22 metres out. Paul Roberts went for goal but his effort went wide.
However, he did put his team 3-0 five minutes later from a penalty on the other side after Cushion had done well again to make ground from a line-out.
Fisilau came close to scoring in the left corner in the 14th minute after Carpenter had put him in, but the Tongan was stopped right on the line. Bevon Armitage was then held up.
Albion got a five-metre scrum and Carpenter looked like he had scored but the referee said he had knocked on as he tried to ground the ball.
That was a let off for Jersey and from then on they started to dominated play.
The game completely changed from the 20th minute. Jersey's confidence increased after a driving Albion back from a line-out on halfway. They got a penalty from that and got another straight away from another catch-and-drive move.
They were close to scoring but the visitors knocked on one metre out.
On 26 minutes the Channel Island side had an overlap on the right but flanker Lang Kingsley knocked the ball on 20 metres out when he had caught it his side would surely have scored.
Visiting scrum-half Nicky Griffiths then made a great break and looked like he might score but he was stopped just a metre out. Jersey had support, but Bevon Armitage illegally killed the ball. It stopped a possible try but earned him a yellow card.
Jersey opted for a five-metre scrum from the penalty but it went down and visiting Jon Brennan suffered an injury when it went down. The game was held up for 10 minutes while he received treatment and was carried off.
Albion also had to replace hooker Jon Vickers with Tom Cowan-Dickie after he had suffered a head/neck injury earlier that he could not shake off.
When the game did finally restart Jersey did score when their impressive number eight Guy Thompson broke from the base of the scrum and stretched out to score.
In the 11th minute of added on time, Jersey got a penalty and Le Bourgeois went for goal but he missed the effort.
However, the referee still said there was time to play on and Jersey should have scored a second try.
First centre Max Stelling made a great break into Albion's 22. The ball eventually went right and Thompson was there. However, he slipped five metres out and the ball was spilled.
But Jersey turned Albion at the scrum on their own line and then have scrum after scrum on Plymouth's line.
Four times Jersey were awarded penalties and each time they went for another scrum but referee Steve Lee opted not to award a penalty try.
And finally Jersey lost patience and went inside from the set play and lost the ball.
That was a blow for them and a big boost for Albion.
But Albion did not use it to their advantage as they came out for the second half and conceded a try from the restart.
The home tried to play their ball out of their 22 from the kick-off but dropped it and Griffiths picked up and scored. Le Bourgeois added the conversion to make it 12-3.
And five minutes later Albion conceded a third try. The impressive Thompson cut through the home side's defence and made 35 metres before the ball came to Griffiths, who dummied before going over for his second from close range.
Griffiths and Thompson were both outstanding for Jersey. Le Bourgeois added the conversion to make it 19-3.
The game was held up for another 10 minutes when Jersey hooker David Felton had to be stretchered off.
Jersey could have killed the game off by sticking the ball up their jumpers and driving, which they did well, but they did not do that and it almost cost them.
And out of almost nothing Albion scored a try when replacement Tom Cowan-Dickie went over in the left corner. Roberts missed the conversion so Albion were 19-8 behind.
Replacement hooker Clare thought he was going to score a fourth try for Jersey in the 74th minute but play was pulled back for a forward pass.
Kingsley also had a good chance before Jersey knocked on right on the try line.
Jersey got a penalty close the try line four minutes later. They opted against going for goal or a scrum, which had been their set-play of choice for most the match, and went for the five-metre line-out but they were unable to make it tell as Albion pushed them into touch.
And right from that move, Albion went up the other end and scored through replacement Tom Bowen after good play by Aaron Carpenter, Paul Rowley and Herbie Stupple.
Cuscack, having taken over the kicking duties, added the conversion from the left to leave Albion just four points behind.
Albion threw everything at Jersey trying to snatch victory in injury-time but the Channel Islanders held on to claim their first away victory of the season and boost their hopes of staying up.
Albion: Declan Cusack, Toby Howley-Berridge, Keni Fisilau, Bevon Armitage, Rhodri McAtee, Paul Roberts, Ruairi Cushion (capt), Jack Andrew, Jon Vickers, Lloyd Fairbrother, Brett Beukeboom, Harrison Tovey, Sean-Michael Stephen, Sam Hocking, Aaron Carpenter. Reps: Paul Rowley, Tom Cowan-Dickie, David Morton, Sam Matavesi, Herbie Stupple, Lewis Warner, Tom Bowen.
Jersey: Barry Davies, Donovan Sanders, Max Stelling, Mark Foster, Ed Dawson, Michael Le Bourgeois, Nicky Griffiths (capt), Sean McCarthy, David Felton, Jon Brennan, Nathan Hannay, Davd Markham, Charlie Walker-Blair, Lang Kingsley, Guy Thompson. Reps: Richard Barrington, James Gethings, Charlie Clare, Rob Anderson, Fred Silcock, Dave McCormack, Glenn Bryce.
Referee: Steve Lee (RFU)
FULL REACTION AND IN-DEPTH REPORT IN MONDAY'S HERALD