Tigers put up a solid fight

First published in Sport by

PLYMOUTH ALBION 30, SEDGLEY PARK 6(National League Division One):

DEPRIVED of ten players through a combination of injury and unavailability, a patched-up Sedgley outfit featuring backrow Ledua Jope on the wing and wing Andy Vilk at full-back, battled away and made things difficult for Graham Dawes' title chasers.

But, it was not enough to prevent a 30-6 reverse.

The home side took the lead on three minutes through Wihan Neethling's boot, aided by the left-hand post On 16 minutes, Albion extended their lead when Ed Barnes popped a pass inside to centre Regardt Van Eyk on the diagonal run and he scampered over the Tigers' line to give Neethling a straight forward conversion to make it 10-0.

Sedgley then had to withstand a sustained period of pressure before, on the half-hour, Phil Jones kicked a 35-metre penalty to reduce the gap to seven points. But, within two minutes Neethling pushed it back out to ten again with a second penalty.

After stealing possession at a lineout they then won, scrum ball and winger Tom Arscott beat the Sedgley defence with his speed before off-loading to Argentinean flanker Frederico Genoud who went over between the posts with Neethling adding the two points to make it 20-3 to Albion at half-time.

Undeterred, the Tigers set out in the second half to claw their way back into the game and, after six minutes of pressure, were awarded another penalty which Jones kicked to make it 20-6.

Plymouth then thought they had claimed their third try, but solid Tigers' defence saw the Albion ball carrier held up over the line.

However, from the resulting five-metre scrum the Plymouth pack controlled possession, maintained the push and lock Ben Gulliver dived on the ball over the line for his side's third try.

At this stage, the Tigers could very easily have been overwhelmed but they stuck to their task and continued to show grit and determination in addition to frustration, as unforced handling errors, and at times an inability to retain possession close to the Albion line, let them down.

The home side claimed the four-try bonus point on the hour with former Tiger, hooker Richard Oxley, taking the short pass from a lineout catch-and-drive to go over; 30-6.

With a quarter of the game left and with Joe Knowles and Paul Keys making their first appearances of the season in a Tigers' shirt, Sedgley pounced on the barest inkling of complacency in the Albion ranks and drove the ball towards the home line at every opportunity.

With prop Scott Zimmerman yellow carded, only knock-ons, missed passes and the occasional turnover continued to prevent Sedgley from crossing the Albion line. Indeed, had Tim Fourie been able to pick from a full squad, this could have been a very different game.

This Saturday at Park Lane, kick-off 2.30pm, Sedgley welcome Nottingham in another 10-point must-win game against a side they could be battling with to avoid relegation.

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