Plymouth Albion Ladies get back on promotion track with win over Henley
ALBION Ladies are back on their promotion track after a crucial win over title rivals Henley.
Albion had to beat Henley on Sunday or give up the promotion ghost for another season.
But their 17-7 win leaves them in third place in South West Championship Two and with a game in hand over current leaders London Welsh.
Albion now have to win another big game when they play at second-placed Bristol Ladies II on February 24.
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Bristol, who are only two points behind London Welsh, have games in hand on Albion and the leaders.
Albion, who won their division last season, but lost in the promotion play-offs, had a shaky start against Henley.
The two sides have met four times since Henley dropped down into the championship two seasons ago, and although Albion have been victorious in three out of four of the meetings, the match is always tightly fought with close scorelines.
Albion lost to Henley before Christmas and were determined not to let it happen again.
But it was the visitors who went ahead despite Albion enjoying the lion's share of the possession.
Number 10 Caitlin Short nailed a penalty for Albion, who were a converted try down after 30 minutes.
Albion's discipline let them down and they conceded too many penalties – although Henley failed to take advantage of them.
Tough tackling from centres Bethan Ayling and Anna Clooke, and full-back Alex Smith's covering, helped to keep the visitors out.
Albion, who knew they had to win to stay in contention for the league title, pulled together in the last 20 minutes to snatch the game from the fire.
They started to play their own game and control the play, putting together set moves and pressuring the Henley defence.
Henley finally caved in when Albion number eight Alison Cooper spotted a gap in their line.
Cooper, who had been set on her way by a pass from scrum-half Kayleigh Moore, ran in her try from distance.
Less than 10 minutes later, wing Sonia Clatworthy put the nail in Henley's coffin.
She beat her markers in a footrace to the ball to touch down beneath Henley's posts.
Short converted both tries to make the final score 17-7.