Albion squander big lead as Moseley battle back
Plymouth Albion managed to throw away a 31-6 lead against Moseley in a crazy game of Championship rugby at Brickfields on Friday night.
James Shanahan’s side, who had beaten Jersey 41-27 in their opening match last Sunday, looked to be cruising to a second successive win when tries by Dan Mugford, Heath Stevens, Sam Matavesi and Tom Bowen put them 25 points after just 34 minutes.
But somehow they managed to throw the victory away in the second half mainly through indiscipline.
Moseley ended up also scoring four tries – two coming in the final five minutes of normal time – so both teams ended up with three points each from a 34-34 draw.
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The visitors would have been delighted with that after been totally out-played in the first half and after their 42-24 hammering against Rotherham Titans on the opening day of the season.
Albion will have been disappointed with the way they crumbled in their first home match, but at least they did not lose and again showed they can score tries. It is nine in two games for them.
They now just have to learn how to not concede them and cut down the penalties. They certainly will not be able to afford to give London Welsh that many next week at Oxford.
Albion made five personnel changes to their team that had started against Jersey five days earlier.
Heath Stevens and Ben Woods came in for their first starts for the club in place of Pale Nonu and the injured Lewis Warner, while Ruairi Cushion took over the number nine shirt from Paul Rowley and Gareth Evans and Sam Matavesi replaced Davy McGregor and Ien Ascroft-Leigh in the pack.
After their heavy 42-24 defeat at Rotherham on the opening weekend, Moseley made four changes, with the experienced Anthony Carter, Craig Voisey and Neil Mason returning to the side, along with young lock Alex Woolford.
Albion made a great start to their first home match of the season. They charged down Moseley’s attempted clearance from receiving the kick-off and attacked. Albion won a penalty on the 22-metre line and Mugford, on his home debut, kicked the three points.
Less than four minutes later, it was 10-0 to Albion. The home side won a free-kick from a Moseley scrum after initially messing up a line-out. From the free-kick the ball eventually found its way to Mugford, who produced an outrageous dummy to cut through Moseley’s poor defence and score under the posts. He added the conversion to give his side an impressive early lead.
Moseley looked all at sea, but they did cut the gap in the seventh minute with an Ollie Thomas penalty.
Bowen, Albion’s hero against Jersey, thought he had scored a great try in the 15th minute. Plymouth went from one end of the field to the other switching it from side to side and eventually they got Bowen away down the right wing, but his effort was ruled out for a forward pass.
That was a let off for Moseley, who were only just hanging on in the game. But the visitors got a boost when Albion had centre Toby Howley-Berridge sin-binned for a late tackle on Scott Armstrong in the 18th minute.
Moseley, despite having been out-played for most of the opening quarter, closed the gap to just four on 21 minutes when Thomas kicked a second penalty. But Albion hit back straight away with Stevens producing a great piece of play to go over under the posts for a try on his home debut. Mugford again converted.
Five minutes later, while Albion were still a man down, they added a third try when Matavesi got the ball down from a driving maul on the left. Mugford, with his trusty left foot, converted to make it 24-6.
Moseley, on a rare excursion to Albion’s half, did get a penalty in the 31st minute but Thomas missed the kick at goal. The Birminigham-based side were having an evening to forget and Albion had the try-scoring bonus point in the bag by the 34th minute when Bowen got the try he had been threatening all night.
Albion turned Moseley over near half way and broke before the ball came to Bowen on the right wing and he just put his foot down and even left the pacy Matty Williams in his wake to score. Mugford again converted to make it 31-6.
The visitors did give themselves a lift before the break when Rhys Buckley scored from a catch-and-drive move that Thomas converted to make the half-time score 31-13 to the hosts.
Moseley started the second half a lot better and Albion found themselves down to 14 men again in the 43rd minute when Matavesi was shown yellow for use of the boot.
Albion had to withstand some strong pressure by visitors but it look like their defence had held out when they forced Moseley into knocking on. But Albion gave away a free-kick at the scrum and Moseley took advantage to go inside and lock Cory Hill managed to sneak over under the posts for a try, which Thomas converted.
That made it 31-20 but Mugford got the scoreboard back ticking in Albion’s favour with a penalty on 50 minutes.
Albion were giving away far too many penalties, but Moseley were not making them pay. The visitors should have scored in the 59th minute but somehow managed to knock on right on the try line.
Moseley continued to keep the pressure up but Albion kept them out.
Eventually Moseley pressure did tell, but it was not until the 75th minute when they scored a great try with Carter going over after a good off-load by Thomas, who also converted.
Within seconds they had levelled the game when Williams broke from nowhere to run in from 65 metres to score under the posts for Thomas to convert and silence the crowd.
There then followed a crazy eight minutes of injury time where both teams managed to get turned over and give away penalties but eventually Albion kicked the ball out to settle for a draw.
Plymouth Albion: Elder, Bowen, Howley-Berridge, Stevens, Woods (Shanahan 68), Mugford, Cushion (Rowley 68), Morton, Evans (McGregor 49), Shields (Rogers 62), Oakley (capt), Beukeboom, Matavesi (Langley 67), Grace, Stephen (Ascroft-Leigh 60). Replacement (not used): Messer.
Scorers: Tries – Mugford, Stevens, Matavesi, Bowen; Conversions – Mugford 4; Penalties – Mugford 2.
Yellow cards: Howley-Berridge, Matavesi.
Moseley: Penn (Hunt 49), Armstrong, King, Carter, Williams, Thomas, Brown (Day 36-40, 62), Voisey, Buckley (Evans 16-19, 70), Evans (Parkins 67), Woolford, Hill (Powell 67), Burrows (Lawrence 54), Robinson, Mason.
Scorers: Tries – Buckley, Hill, Carter, Williams; Conversions – Thomas 4; Penalties – Thomas 2.
Referee: M Carley (RFU)