Dogged ef­fort not enough as Ply­mouth march on

The Rugby Paper - - National League 1 - By PADDY MARSH

PLY­MOUTH Al­bion main­tained their 100 per cent home record this sea­son but they were pushed all the way by a Cam­bridge side who thor­oughly de­served the los­ing bonus point they took from the match.

In a game that was lit­tered with nu­mer­ous penal­ties Ply­mouth had much the bet­ter of the match, both in terms of ter­ri­tory and pos­ses­sion, but they strug­gled to break down the ex­cel­lent Cam­bridge de­fence.

A clearly dis­ap­pointed Ply­mouth head coach Kieran Hal­lett said: “It was a poor game but we were also poor.

“De­fen­sively we were OK but ac­cu­racy and ex­e­cu­tion-wise we were way off the pace out there.

“We dom­i­nated the game but we haven’t come away with the out­comes we wanted.

“I would ques­tion some of our de­ci­sion mak­ing par­tic­u­larly at the end. I’m dis­ap­pointed we didn’t get the bonus point but a win’s a win.”

Ply­mouth put Cam­bridge un­der early pres­sure but the visi­tors’ de­fence held firm, keep­ing out a series of close-range drives.

Against the run of play Cam­bridge took the lead mid-way through the first half when a kick ahead was pounced upon by skip­per Mike Ayr­ton for a try that went un­con­verted.

That score stung Ply­mouth into life and they took the lead when wing Jack Arnott stepped inside the last de­fender to touch­down un­der the posts, mak­ing the con­ver­sion for fly-half Dan Mug­ford a for­mal­ity.

Ply­mouth started the sec­ond half on the front foot and stretched their lead when hooker Jamie

Sal­ter fin­ished off a catch and drive move.

Most of the sec­ond half was played in the Cam­bridge half of the pitch but as much as they tried, Ply­mouth just couldn’t get past the res­o­lute de­fence of the visi­tors.

Ply­mouth did think they had scored a third try when re­place­ment scrum half Joe Snow ap­peared to touch down un­der the posts but the ref­eree was un­sighted and awarded a five-me­tre scrum.

It took a piece of in­di­vid­ual skill from Mug­ford to ease the home nerves.

The Na­tional 1 top points scorer spot­ted a gap be­hind the home de­fence and, af­ter putting through a grub­ber kick, won the race to the ball.

Ply­mouth went in search for the bonus point but it was Cam­bridge who fin­ished off the scor­ing when re­place­ment hooker Ean Grif­fiths rounded off a catch and drive which se­cured the los­ing bonus point.

Cam­bridge di­rec­tor of rugby Ross Ste­wart said: “It was a close game and Ply­mouth had pos­ses­sion in the right ar­eas of the pitch.

“In re­cent weeks our de­fence has been quite leaky, but to­day we de­fended very well.

“I was pleased with our per­for­mance but not the re­sult.

“I did think we might have snatched a draw at the end.”

PIC­TURES: Pin­na­cle

Fi­nal flour­ish: Dan Mug­ford scores for Ply­mouth Al­bion

Stay­ing strong: No way through for Michael Stup­ple of Ply­mouth as Ben Penfold leads the Cam­bridge de­fence

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