Sat 07
1st XV
Plymouth Albion 40 Bishop's Stortford First XV 42

Plymouth Albion 40 Bishop's Stortford First XV 42

By John Allanson
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Memorable first ever victory for Stortford at Plymouth in a nail biting encounter.

After 17 minutes Stortford were 21 points down to 3 converted tries, which were well finished by Plymouth, but it has to be said were largely the product of some sloppy Stortford play. The visitors then started to show their character, though, firing back with two converted tries of their own in the next 6 minutes. The first touchdown went to Rob Duff, rounding off an incisive move with Will Roberts, making the decisive break. This showed that the home defence was far from fireproof and the second score went to Roberts himself, demonstrating clearly that a season away with injury had in no way dampened his firey spirit, as he deservedly rounded off a period of strong team pressure, built on good work by skipper, Sam Winter. Brad Burr converted both to take his side within 7 points and this gap was closed 11 minutes later, when Dan Elsom was driven over by the rest of the pack, after the flanker had initially been held up out wide after some determined teamwork had created space out wide, with Burr again adding the extras. This seesaw game continued in similar vein, though, with the home side capitalising on a penalty almost directly from the restart to go for touch and opting to spread the ball wide from the resultant lineout, rather than depending on the hitherto reliable driving pack. This allowed Dan Mugford to touch down out wide, from where the flyhalf was unable to add the two points. The visitors battled back and, with time running out, forced a penalty on the Plymouth 22 and Burr duly kicked the three points to take his side into the break only 2 points adrift which, given the 21 points start given to the opposition was a great result.

Stortford started the second period strongly and recovered from a loose knock-on in the home 22 to produce a powerful drive at the resultant scrum to force a penalty and take the lead for the first time in the match via Burr's boot. This narrow margin was extended within 5 minutes, when Sam Winter darted down the short side of an attacking ruck for a poacher's try after a period of sustained Stortford pressure. Almost inevitably, though, in this see-sawing game, Plymouth fought back and Cameron Setters touched down after 11 minutes of the half, after Stortford’s defence was, not for the first time stretched to breaking point out wide and a great conversion by Mugford took his side back into a 1 point lead. The visitors proved their own resilience within 3 minutes, with Dan Elsom registering his second try, as an excellent long pass from midfield found the flanker lurking unmarked out on the wing. The very difficult conversion attempt went wide and the home side bounced back, subjecting the Stortford defence to a real pounding. Despite holding out for several minutes, they were eventually undone from yet another penalty kick for touch within their 22 when, despite some excellent initial defence, they were forced to concede a penalty under the posts and quick ball from the resultant scrum saw winger, Josh Skelcey in for his second try with some 10 minutes left. Yet another great conversion from Mugford from the touchline took his side into a 3 point lead. The visitors, having lost here at the death last season, now showed their true character, fighting back to mount a concerted assault on the Plymouth 22, where a penalty was forced. The touch kick produced a lineout some 10 metres out from the home line and, although the initial driving maul was halted, a secondary press from the forwards saw the pack drive over out wide for a try to Seb Brownhill and a 2 point lead. It was at this very late juncture that Stortford demonstrated a crucial improvement from last season, in that the pack, very well marshalled by scrumhalf, Sam Coleman then proceeded to see out the remaining 3 or 4 minutes by going through phase after phase from a series of rucks on their own 22 to see the clock run down for a notable away victory.

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Match details

Match date

Sat 07, Sep 2019




National League 1

League position

Bishops Stortford