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Plymouth Albion Preview

Plymouth Albion Preview

London Scottish this coming Saturday head down to Devon for an away fixture with Plymouth Albion. Scottish will be determined to bounce back after their losing bonus point defeat by Leeds Carnegie and secure their first away win of the season. The match promises to be another tough challenge for the Scottish side, but one which they will be looking to come out ahead.

London Scottish this coming Saturday head down to Devon for an away fixture with Plymouth Albion. Scottish will be determined to bounce back after their losing bonus point defeat by Leeds Carnegie and secure their first away win of the season. The match promises to be another tough challenge for the Scottish side, but one which they will be looking to come out ahead.

Plymouth Albion was formed in 1915 out of a merger between Plymouth RFC and Devonport Albion RFC.  The circumstances of the merger were brought about through a Northern Union (Rugby League) club called Plymouth Northern Union taking over the Plymouth RFC clubs ground in 1912 at South Devon Place forcing the disbandment of the Plymouth RFC club, which later re-emerged as part of the merger with Devonport Albion to form Plymouth Albion.  Both Plymouth and Devonport Albion can trace their histories back to 1875 and 1876 respectively. Plymouth Albion became a major force in the game in the 1920’s and at one time had five England Internationalists on their books.

MPU

Since the introduction of the leagues in the 1980’s Albion’s career has fluctuated between the second and fourth level of rugby, however  the 1998/99 season saw the appointment of Graham Dawes as Chairman of Rugby and the club emerged from a period in the doldrums to finally obtain promotion to the equivalent of the Championship, and have remained at this level ever since. I n the summer of 2003 the club moved to its current location, Brickfields in Devonport, from the Beacon Park ground.  Since then the club has developed the ground and reportedly has a capacity for 8500 supporters, which includes  the reuse of one of the old Harlequins Stoop ground stands.

Albion like a number of teams in the Championship has experience financial challenges of late and has shaped their squad accordingly.  Over the summer Graham Dawe focused his recruitment on youth, and a number of new players joined the club.  These included winger Tyson Lewis from Blackheath and full back Jack Nowell. The Devon club have also over the years, recruited Canadian internationalists and currently No 8 Aaron Carpenter and 2nd Row Tyler Hotson have been staring in the 2011 Rugby World Cup and could well be ready to return to the Albion side. Albion has two Scottish players on their books; former Scotland under 20 prop David Morton who previously played against Scottish whilst at Bridgewater Albion and former Scotland under 21 centre Cameron Mitchell, both of whom were in the Albion 22 squad for their last game away at Doncaster.

This season has been a frustrating one for the Albion faithful.  In their opening match of the season they overcame Esher 22 -13 and followed this up with a 41 -26 loss away at London Welsh.  Once back on home soil, Albion turned over Rotherham 24 -20 and although putting up a spirited away performance at Bristol they lost out 41 -36 in a high scoring match.  In their last two fixtures they lost 19 -26 at home to Cornish Pirates in front of close to 3000 supporters and 12 – 3 away at Doncaster Knights last weekend.  Scottish will be looking to take their first away scalp of the season, however Plymouth at home will be a tough nut to crack.

Scottish supporters driving to Plymouth and using SatNav should enter PL1 4NE into their device. Non-techies should take the M4/M5 and then the A38.  Then approach Plymouth along the A38 until you reach the Manadon intersection which is signposted for the A386, City Centre.  Follow the A386 towards the City Centre.  Follow signs for Torpoint (ferry) A374 along Milehouse Road then Devonport Road through a small shopping area. Shortly after this shopping area there is a mini roundabout turn right into Albert Rd.  At the next set of traffic lights turn left. Proceed to mini roundabout carry straight on following signs for the City Centre and signed as the A374. Within 400 meters there is a yellow AA sign indicating the left turn (into Madden Road) for Brickfields Recreation Ground. Alternatively those going by train from Paddington the journey taking approximately three hours.  Should be a cracking game and see you all there.  C’mon you Scottish.

Ninth Minute of Injury Time Agony for Scottish

Ninth Minute of Injury Time Agony for Scottish

London Scottish lost out 29 - 25 in an end to end match away at Plymouth, when they conceded the wining try in the last play of the match in the ninth minute of injury time. This was a match whom Scottish should and could have won, as they were leading throughout the extended injury time period. A good example of a match which highlights the fine dividing line between winning and losing in the Championship.

London Scottish lost out 29 – 25 in an end to end match away at Plymouth, when they conceded the wining try in the last play of the match in the ninth minute of injury time. This was a match whom Scottish should and could have won, as they were leading throughout the extended injury time period. A good example of a match which highlights the fine dividing line between winning and losing in the Championship.

On a glorious sunny autumn day London Scottish made their first ever visit to the Brickfields Stadium, the home of Plymouth Albion, and it was the first time since 1992 that the sides had met in a league fixture.  Plymouth kicked off playing towards the old Harlequins stand end of the ground and immediately took the play to the Scottish defence. The Plymouth pack was bolstered by the return of their Canadian World Cup forwards Tyler Hotson and Aaron Carpenter, whose last competitive game was against the All Blacks in the World Cup pool match.

MPU

Scottish opened the scoring on the 11th minute after they had a promising attack stopped deep in the Albion 22 metre after they knocked on the ball.  At the resultant scrum, Scottish took the ball against the head and the ball was moved out wide.  The ball was eventually switched back inside to 2nd row Josh Brown who made good ground into the Albion defence, with Albion’s 2nd row Dan Collier being penalised for being off side at the ruck.  Fly half Dan Mugford converted.  The Scottish cause was dented shortly later when No8 Mark Bright went off with an injury and was replaced by Anthony Andrews.  From the re-start Albion took the game to Scottish and the away side were caught offside immediately in front of their posts.  Full back James Love converted an easy opportunity.  Three minutes later the home side took the lead, when again the Scottish defence was caught offside.  During the next phase of the game a number of unforced errors began to creep into the Scottish game.  The Scottish scrum were penalised on their own 10 metre line and Love pushed the home side further ahead 9 – 3.

The sequence of exchanging penalties continued on the 25th minute, when the home side were penalised for killing the ball at a ruck just outside their 22 metre area immediately in front of the posts.  Mugford again reduced the arrears.  Both sides were guilty of giving away cheap penalties and Scottish were again penalised on their 22 metre line and Love pushed the score out 12 – 6.  On the half hour mark scum half Matt Heeks made a very good half break through the Plymouth defence, taking play deep into their half until he was eventually held up just outside the home side’s 22 metre area.  This attacked petered out after Scottish knocked on at the ruck.  On the 37th minute Mugford produced a delightful chip over the oncoming Plymouth defence, which led again to the home side conceding a penalty for being offside with Mugford converting to leave the half time score of 12 – 9.  The first half could be summed up as error strewn with both sides being guilty of unforced errors littering the half. 

Plymouth opened the scoring in the second half when flanker Willie Lipp was penalised just outside the Scottish 22 metre for a high tackle. L ove pushed the home sides lead out to 15 – 9.  Five minutes later Canadian Internationalist No 8 Carpenter was penalised for handling the ball in the ruck and Scottish opted to kick to the corner.  At the line out the ball was tapped down to scrum half Heeks who broke through a gap in the line out and raced towards the try line.  Five metres out, Heeks off loaded to replacement back row Andrews who dived over to score to the left of the posts, with Mugford adding the extras to put Scottish 15 – 16 ahead.  Scottish were beginning to take full control of the game and the pressure paid off when the Albion scrum was penalised for collapsing the scrum and Mugford pushed Scottish 15 –19 further ahead.  During this phase of play Scottish had the home side on the back foot and were capitalising on the Albion mistakes.  On the 55th minute, Albion conceded another penalty for not releasing the tackled player 5 metres into their half.  Full back Ollie Grove stepped in and took the long range effort where the ball soared between the posts, giving Scottish a 7 point advantage.  A series of good Scottish forward drives resulted in 2nd Row Steve Pape being held up over the Albion line.  At the following scrum the ball was fed out to Mugford who knocked on and Scottish were penalised at the next scrum, allowing the home side to clear their lines and push play up to the half way line.

Shortly after the hour mark, Albion’s centre Keni Fisilau and Scottish prop Aaron Liffchak were yellow carded for a session of “handbags at ten paces” and both were dispatched to the sidelines for the obligatory 10 minutes.  Plymouth kicked to the corner from the penalty and at the subsequent line out Albion’s 2nd row Hotson was penalised for deliberately pulling down his opposite number and was spoken to by the referee.  The home side were coming more and more into the game and on the 68th minute Scottish replacement hooker Adam Kwasnicki was yellow carded for a series of penalties on the Scottish try line. Albion used their numerical advantage in the forwards and were awarded a penalty try shortly after to put the score all square at 22 -22. Not to be out done, Scottish again took the play into the Plymouth half and the home side conceded another penalty just outside their 22 metre for diving in over the top at the ruck immediately in front of the posts.  Mugford converted to push Scottish three points ahead as the game went into the last 5 minutes of normal time.

The Plymouth forwards were now camped in the Scottish 22 metre area, and at a scrum immediately in front of the posts the Scottish pack drove their opposition back at a great rate of knots forcing them to concede a penalty allowing Scottish to clear their lines.  As the match moved into injury time Scottish were again penalised on their 10 metre line, but the Albion attempt fell short of the Scottish posts and was caught by Josh Brown who passed to Heeks, clearing the ball from the Scottish dead ball area.  Although there had been no serious injuries in the second half, the match referee Terry Hall continued play for a further 6 minutes when Plymouth scored their winning try in the 9th minute of injury time through replacement winger Steve Johns.  Love added the extras to leave a final score of 29 -25.

The Scottish pack in this game was immense and matched their opposition pack containing two internationalists throughout.  It was only when the Scottish pack was reduced in numbers through the yellow cardings that the Plymouth pack gained their ascendancy.  It’s always easy to play the injury card, but this Scottish team just gets on with it, and full credit to the whole squad for putting in such an enduring performance.  So another tight loss for the Scottish side with a losing bonus point in the bag.  However, on the basis of the play throughout this game, a draw would have been a much fairer outcome for both sides. Scottish now moves on to a tasty home fixture against old rivals Bedford Blues at home next weekend and look out for the match preview later in the week.

Alex Clarke was awarded the Jock Meikle Sponsored Away Supporters Man of the Match

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