Shanahan rings changes for Albion and they answer call with win
PLYMOUTH ALBION 28 NOTTINGHAM 9
Having failed to overcome Moseley and London Scottish in their opening two matches at Brickfields it was third time lucky for Albion against Nottingham in the British & Irish Cup.
James Shanahan's side only led 7-6 at the break, but in the second half Nottingham, with just one win to their name this season, had three players sin-binned and Albion, who only picked up one yellow card, scored 21 points.
Rhys Oakley, Rob Langley and Eoghan Grace scored tries to secure a first home win of the season for Albion, who had Declan Cusack kicking 11 points after coming on as a replacement in the second half following injury.
Ask us for a quote for standard C Rated (Window Energy Rating) windows and we will upgrade your order to A Rated for FREE
Terms: Must quote Okehampton People website when arranging survey
Contact: 01837 510303
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
And Albion will be hoping to add another cup win next week when they travel to Stirling, so that when the Championship does resume on October 26 they will be full of belief.
Both Albion and Nottingham mixed their teams around for this match. Shanahan made 11 changes to the Albion team that had lost to Scottish seven days earlier, while Nottingham changed eight of their personnel who were beaten by Jersey last Sunday.
However, despite the changes, Albion named a strong line-up. Only one of their team – head coach Shanahan who lined up at fly-half – had not started a league match either this season or last.
Albion were able to welcome back Lewis Warner from injury and fellow wing Jack Arnott from Exeter, while Pale Nonu, Gareth Evans and Sam Matavesi were among those returning to the starting XV.
Nottingham included former Plymouth hooker Jon Vickers on the replacements' bench.
Nottingham looked likely to open the try-scoring in the third minute after they turned Albion over on halfway and broke at pace. The visitors had an overlap and found Joe Munroe, but Arnott did brilliantly to push the centre into touch as he dived over to put the ball down.
However, Nottingham did not return empty-handed from that move as Albion messed up the line-out and conceded a five-metre scrum and then gave away a penalty, allowing Rory Lynn the chance to kick three points.
The visitors were looking dangerous down the wings and Warner and Arnott had to be on their guard defensively. However, they were both looking like Albion's most attacking assets as well.
Albion had struggled to get near Nottingham's 22 in the opening quarter but on 19 minutes they got a penalty 30 metres out in front of the posts and Chris Elder went for goal but surprisingly missed.
But the home side did go in front six minutes later when captain Oakley went over for a try from close range. The score came after Louis Messer and Elder had broken at pace.
However, Nottingham had a chance to clear the danger but Pasqualie Dunn made a mess of a clearing kick – he hit an Albion player with it – and the ball fell well for the home side, who then camped on the visitors' line before Oakley found a gap. Elder added the conversion.
Nottingham did close the deficit to one point in the 31st minute when Matt Jarvis kicked a penalty. But it brought to a close a poor first half that was littered with knock-ons and scrums.
The visitors had the first chance to score a try in the second half but they knocked on five metres from the line.
The game was really struggling to come to life but it finally did in the 51st minute when Langley scored a second try for Albion after Nonu had put him in and he shrugged off a poor tackle to cross.
The score came after Albion had finally managed to put some passing together – switching it from side to side to find the gap.
Elder could not add the conversion but not long later replacement Declan Cusack, returning from injury, kicked a penalty to make it 15-6 after the visitors had centre Ed Styles sin-binned for a professional foul.
Albion had finally found a bit of pace to their game, but Nottingham, with a man less, closed the gap on 59 minutes with another Jarvis penalty from a scrum.
Cusack restored Albion's nine-point lead with another penalty on 65 minutes before the home side had Gareth Evans sin-binned for a late tackle. Albion have still not gone through a game this season without having a man sin-binned or sent off.
But while a man down Albion defended really well. Twice in two minutes they forced Harrison Lee-Everton into touch just when he looked like he might get away.
But any hope Nottingham had of taking advantage of an extra man disappeared when they had Dan Montague sin-binned in the 75th minute.
Cusack kicked another penalty two minutes later before Nottingham found themselves down to 13 men when Harry Williams was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.
Once Albion were back to 15 men the two extra bodies told. They finished in style when a gap opened up for replacement Grace to dive over near the posts and Cusack to convert with the last act of the game.