Plymouth Albion - At Brickfields
February 23 2015
Jersey have always won at Brickfields but not on Saturday where we contrived to outscore Albion by three tries to two and dominate possession but lost the match by a single point and given what that cracking club has been through this season I don't begrudge them the four points they so desperately needed.
Mrs C was in tow on this trip but she went off to see the sites of the town and left me to have lunch with a great bunch of Albion fans in the Midas Pavilion. Albion brought a secret weapon in the form of young Harry Westlake who firmly rejected my offer of a Jersey scarf or shirt and couldn't be persuaded to support the reds.
Half a gallon of Doom Bar was enough to wash the wonderful pie which would certainly rank up there with Donny's league leader. It had been a gorgeous morning but dark clouds gathered and the heavens opened around an hour before kickoff. The wind increased in strength and was probably force 6 straight down the pitch towards the Clubhouse end. It was likely to be a game of two halves and Jersey were kicking downwind first half so I headed off to the Redrow terrace for the match.
Jersey huge back five forwards dominated for most of the game although the front row battle was much more even. Tom Fidler had an outstanding match but Jersey's game management at half back failed to click on the day. We had an obviously dominant maul - apart from the brief 10 minutes when Nick Campbell was on the naughty bench for a high tackle - and we needed to play in the right areas and grind Albion down. Instead we leaked an interception try by running the ball away from our strong forwards and leaked a second while Campbell was on the naughty bench so amazingly we turned around at half time losing 12-7. To say we failed to exploit the conditions in that first half is probably stating the obvious. In fairness to Albion their rush defence and kick/chase game throughout was exceptional and the whole side as well as the crowd desperately wanted the win.
In the second half we brought on Sam Lockwood, Dave Markham & Joe Buckle which added to our forward power and we played better despite the handicap of playing into a gale. We ground out two more tries and took the lead with ten minutes to go and looked certain to bag a fourth try and a bonus point victory. We were playing at our favourite ground and Albion's forwards were virtually out on their feet. Unfortunately our lads forgot the script and gave a penalty chance to Albion around the 10 metre line and Cussack who had a great game throughout never looked like missing it.
We were a point down but still had virtually all the possession and battered Albion's defence looking for the fourth try. An attacking lineout five metres out would surely produce a driving maul try but a crooked throw towards the back of the line and the chance was gone. With Joe Buckle throwing in I really couldn't understand why we called anything other than a ball to the front of the line...........
Albion clung on and the relief amongst the crowd and the players at the end was infectious. The referee and his assistants had fine games and whilst on another day the sheer number of maul offences by Albion would have lead to a yellow card they kept the game going and save for Nick Campbell's transgression all the players stayed on the pitch. The number of phases of play where the ball was recycled by the attacking side was incredible and I would happily have Mr Pearce and his assistants at any game in future.
Well played Albion you have great hospitable fans and I for one hope to be going back next year where I hope to see normal service resume and a Jersey win at Brickfields.
In the lottery of seats on small planes I again ended up sitting next to Sam Fisilau and I hope Harry Williams has recovered from the daunting experience of sitting next to Mrs C on the flight back.
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