Plymouth Albion delight biggest crowd with victory over Rotherham
PLYMOUTH Albion continued their impressive start to the season with a 15-3 victory over Rotherham at Brickfields last night.
The win, which came thanks to a penalty try, one from Paul Bailey and five points from the boot of Paul Roberts, was Albion's fourth in five Championship games, but it was their first by more than one score.
Rotherham, who have only won once at Brickfields in nine seasons, never really looked like heading back north with the points after an indisciplined and poor display.
Albion, just like they did last season, have now completed a home hat-trick over the Yorkshire sides in the Championship, after also beating Leeds and Doncaster at Brickfields.
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The win, earned with great spirit and discipline and in front of the club's biggest crowd of the season, keeps Albion in the top three but they face a far tougher test next week when they travel to Goldington Road to take on Bedford.
Albion made three changes to their team that narrowly beat Moseley 24-22 away last weekend.
Flanker Wayne Sprangle and young dual-registered prop Luke Cowan-Dickie came in for their first starts of the season, while Lloyd Fairbrother returned to Albion's pack after injury.
Rupeni Nasiga, Jack Andrew and David Morton dropped down to the bench.
Rotherham, who had to rebuild their squad during the summer after losing many of their star players from last term, included former Launceston players Palepoi Nonu and Toby Freeman in their starting line-up.
The South Yorkshire side were suffering with a number of injuries and included the 18-year-old son of coach Andre Bester, Jan-Francois, on the bench.
Albion took the lead on their first foray into Rotherham's half with Paul Roberts kicking a penalty after three minutes.
The home side used their kicking game well in the opening 10 minutes. They pinned Rotherham back in their half for a good spell.
But the visitors levelled the match in the 14th minute when Garry Law kicked a penalty.
Rotherham did come close to scoring a try minutes later but gave away a silly penalty in possession right on the line.
After that the game lost its way for a while with a lot of aimless kicking.
However, it came to life again six minutes before half-time.
A poor Rotherham kick was run back by Albion, who got a penalty 25 metres out almost in front of the posts. Much to everyone's surprise Bailey took a quick tap penalty.
It looked like a bad decision when Albion lost the ball, but Rotherham knocked on inside their 22 to give away a scrum. From it Rotherham gave away a penalty and Albion went for a five-metre line-out.
The home side won it and drove and it looked like Sam Hocking was going to score his sixth try of the season but it appeared he had the ball kicked out of hands just as he was about to ground it.
Whatever happened, referee David Rose, officiating Albion for the second time in three home games, decided it was illegal and awarded Albion a penalty try, which Roberts converted to make it 10-3.
Rotherham, whose kicking was poor in the first half, did have the chance to close the gap just before the break with a penalty but Law missed.
The second half started in controversial fashion.
Just three minutes into it Rotherham had centre Nonu sin-binned for what referee Rose deemed a high tackle on Toby Howley-Berridge.
It did not look particularly bad but Albion were happy to have the extra man.
However, the home side wasted the penalty by going for the corner and losing the line-out.
Captain Sean-Michael Stephen was having another big game for Albion and it was not long before the home side did increase their lead with the extra man.
Another poor Rotherham kick gave Albion a great line-out position and from it they pressed and pressed with their forwards.
After getting no joy from close range Albion went wide and Roberts put in a great cross-field kick which found Bailey perfectly, and he touched down for his second try in two weeks.
Roberts could not add the conversion but Albion were 15-3 up.
Rotherham were getting really frustrated.
They clearly felt decisions were going against them but they did not help themselves by losing their cool.
Just a minute after returning to 15 players they were reduced to 14 again when lock Dan Sanderson was shown a yellow card for pulling down at a line-out.
Rotherham had hardly threatened but they did come close in the 62nd minute but Albion did brilliantly to turn them over right on the line.
Albion were not doing anything special, but they were doing everything right.
Their line-out was a lot better, they kicked better and were more disciplined than Rotherham, and they were extremely physical in the tackle.
Rotherham did have chances at the end to grab a bonus point but they were unable to do so.
Albion: Henry Slade, Paul Bailey (Rhodri McAtee 70), Toby Howley-Berridge, Bevon Armitage, Jack Arnott, Paul Roberts, Ruairi Cushion, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jon Vickers (Tom Cowan-Dickie 64), Lloyd Fairbrother (David Morton 70), Brett Beukeboom, Ien Ascroft-Leigh (Aaron Carpenter 64), Wayne Sprangle (Rupeni Nasiga 64), Sam Hocking, Sean-Michael Stephen (capt). Reps: Jack Andrew, Keni Fisilau.
Rotherham: Michael Whitehead (James McKinney 52), Eamonn Sheridan, Lee Blackett, Palepoi Nonu, Michael Doneghan, Garry Law (capt), James Williams (Joel Gill 69), James Kilbane (Shane Cahill 52), Ted Stagg (Dan Baines 52), Ross Davies (Gareth Denman 69), Neale Patrick (Rory Pitman 35), Dan Sanderson, Alex Rieder, Carl Kirwan, Toby Freeman. Reps: Jan-Francois Bester,
Referee: David Rose (RFU)
Scorers: Albion: Tries: Penalty, Bailey; Pen: Roberts; Cons: Roberts
Rotherham: Pen: Law
Cards: Albion: None
Rotherham: Yellow: Nonu, Sanderson
Bristol 21 Moseley 22, Doncaster 18 Cornish Pirates 18, Nottingham 54 London Scottish 9