Eight-try loss ends Albion's winning run
Plymouth Albion coach Nat Saumi is hoping Saturday's 55-17 Championship hammering at Bedford Blues was just a "blip" for his team.
Albion conceded eight tries at Goldington Road as their three-game winning run was brought to an end in dramatic fashion.
Saumi's team had gone into Saturday's fixture in third place, just one spot behind Bedford, but they never looked like claiming victory after finding themselves 29-3 down at the break.
A disappointed Saumi said: "Bedford played well, but we did not stick to our game plan. It was basic errors and discipline that cost us. We did not do the basics right. We were dropping balls, getting turned over in the contact area and they capitalised on that.
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"It was just an error-ridden performance from our guys in the first 40 minutes that took the game away from us.
"We tried to settle the score in the second half, but it was quite a massive lead they had.
"However, the team showed a bit of character second half. We got two tries and kept working to the end."
The defeat was Saumi's biggest since becoming Albion's head coach, overtaking the 42-17 loss at Esher, back in April. The Fijian admitted his team had to decide at half-time whether to opt for damage control or just go for it.
They went for the latter in the hope of at least rescuing something from the game.
"They had four tries [by half-time] and we had to try and get a point," said Saumi. "We tried to go for it and catch the game up, but we ended up committing more basic errors, which cost us again."
After the Rotherham match the previous week, Saumi said he was not getting carried away by Albion's start – so it was not too much of a surprise to find out he is not going to panic just yet.
"If you look at it as a whole picture, it is a big loss, but for me it is not," he said. "We live for another day.
"Leeds are a very good team but they got stuffed also by 50-something points [at Newcastle], but they came back and did very well this week [42-7 home win over Doncaster].
"I hope this is just a blip for us. It does bring us back down to earth and makes the team realise that there are some very good teams in this league so you have to keep working hard, week in, week out.
"You can never be complacent. We had four wins and sometimes you think what you have been doing is fine.
"We have been playing well, but we've had a big dip here, but we are going to go again."
Although unhappy with all the errors his team made, Saumi felt the one positive was the team's character.
"I can't doubt their character," he said. "They give everything. We went down by four tries but they kept coming back."
Bedford's first two tries, courtesy of their wings James Stephenson and Josh Bennett, both came off well-worked line-out moves. That left Albion chasing the game and that is the last thing you want to do against Bedford.
Paul Roberts did get them some points on the board in the 26th minute with a penalty.
The Blues, though, kept the pressure on and added a third try through former Albion back James Pritchard on 34 minutes, which he also converted.
It got worse for Albion before half-time when Bedford added a fourth try through a great counterattack with Greg Gillanders crossing after Pritchard had put him clear.
Pritchard converted to make the half-time score 29-3.
Albion did improve with the arrival of second-half replacements Aaron Carpenter and Rupeni Nasiga and Sam Hocking pulled a try back with a close-range effort from a maul – his sixth of the season.
But, as Albion looked for more, Bedford picked them off and ran right down the other end and scored a converted try through Henry Staff.
Albion did get a second converted try in the 65th minute when hooker Jon Vickers went over from close range.
However, Bedford were not finished and they ran in three more tries.
First, Ben Ransom went over after replacement Keni Fisilau had an attempted chip on halfway intercepted, before Brett Beukeboom lost the ball in almost the same place resulting in Jake Sharp scoring.
And, finally, deep into injury-time, the impressive Pritchard, who earlier in the half had totally flattened Albion's young full-back Henry Slade, added a second try out wide to take his tally for the game to 25 points.
Albion now have a break from league action with the British and Irish Cup taking precedence for two weeks.
Saumi's team will play Munster A at home before travelling to Rotherham. They will then return to league action with a home game against Nottingham on October 27.
"For the players, it is good," he said. "There is no pressure and we can get back to doing what we have been doing earlier in the season."
He added: "We just have to come back next week and start all over again."