Albion slump to record ninth straight loss
A well-known adage states actions speak louder than words.
Plymouth Albion's supporters must be fed up of hearing the players promise that a win is just around the corner, but then not deliver one.
Albion have gone four months without a single Championship victory to their name and on Saturday set a new club record for the most number of consecutive league defeats in their history by losing at home to second-from-bottom Jersey. The loss was their ninth in a row.
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Jersey arrived at Brickfields having never previously won an away game in the Championship, but went back to the Channel Islands with four well-deserved points.
Albion started the game well, but only managed three points after dominating the first 15 minutes and then suddenly Jersey were in control.
The visitors used their forwards well, were quick to the breakdowns, and had two match-winners in No.8 Guy Thompson and scrum-half Nicky Griffiths, who really stood out in a low-quality stop-start match that lasted two-and-a-quarter hours due to a couple of lengthy injuries.
The first half lasted 65 minutes, with nearly 15 of them spent with Jersey having scrum after scrum five metres from Albion's line. Referee Steve Lee kept awarding them penalties and Jersey kept opting for scrums.
Albion got away with going in at just 5-3 down but Nat Saumi's side were not so lucky after the break, gifting Jersey two quick tries to find themselves 19-3 down.
As is now becoming habit, Albion rallied in the dying minutes, with replacements Herbie Stupple, Sam Matavesi, Tom Bowen and Tom Cowan-Dickie making telling contributions, but they could not snatch the win at the end.
Paul Roberts put Albion in front in the ninth minute with a penalty. He had missed one five minutes early as his side dominated from the kick-off.
Keni Fisilau, brought into the starting line-up along with new signing Declan Cusack and Jack Andrew, nearly scored a try in the 14th minute but he was just stopped a metre away, as was Bevon Armitage seconds later.
Aaron Carpenter thought he had scored for the hosts from a five-metre scrum but the referee ruled he had knocked on as he reached for the try line.
Suddenly the game switched to being all Jersey, as they started to use their forwards well. The visitors had three chances to score before Armitage was sin-binned for illegally stopping Jersey getting quick ball right on the try line after a storming Griffiths run.
Jersey went for a five-metre scrum from the penalty. It went down and visiting prop Jon Brennan was injured resulting in a nine-minute stoppage.
Once the game restarted Jersey got another penalty and again opted for a scrum from which Thompson scored. Jersey fly-half Michael Le Bourgeois missed the conversion and a penalty kick at goal before Thompson should have scored a second. However, he slipped yards from the line and the ball was knocked on.
Jersey turned Albion, who had lost front-rowers Jon Vickers and Jack Andrew to injury, at the scrum and got one of their own. Cue the endless minutes of five-metre scrums as referee Lee showed plenty of patience with Albion.
The visitors they made up for not scoring at the end of the first half by increasing their lead straight from the restart. Albion tried to play the ball out from their 22 from kick-off but lost it and Griffiths picked it up and scored. Le Bourgeois converted. It was 19-3 five minutes later when Griffiths scored his second try after a great run by Thompson.
The game was held up for another nine minutes in the second half due to an injury to Jersey hooker David Felton.
When play resumed Albion, with Matavesi and Stupple impressing, gave their fans something to cheer when Cowan-Dickie wet over in the left corner to make it 19-8.
Jersey turned down a kick at goal for a five-metre line-out, only to get pushed into touch. From the line-out Albion went up the other end and scored through Bowen after good yardage by Carpenter, Paul Rowley and Stupple. Cusack converted from out wide to set up an exciting finish.