Ply­mouth bare to move third

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

PLY­MOUTH Al­bion main­tained their un­beaten home record with a hard-earned win over sec­ond­placed Ampthill on a mis­er­able af­ter­noon.

The game at Brick­fields won’t live long in the mem­ory.

But Ply­mouth did just enough to se­cure the vic­tory that moved them up to third in the ta­ble.

Ply­mouth skip­per Eoghan Grace said: “Those were tough con­di­tions out there and it was al­ways go­ing to be a for­ward bat­tle.

“Ampthill have a big phys­i­cal pack and we knew we had to match them up front.

“Our de­fence was out­stand­ing and not to con­cede a try is a big ego boost for us.”

Ampthill had first use of the wind and took the game to Al­bion from the kick off.

Vis­it­ing fly-half Josh Sharp was wide with a rel­a­tively easy early penalty be­fore a great tackle by Ply­mouth full-back Jack Arnott pre­vented Ampthill wing James Pritchard from scor­ing in the corner.

De­spite be­ing put un­der a lot of pres­sure, the Ply­mouth de­fence looked strong de­spite giv­ing away a num­ber of penal­ties.

When Sharp was wide with an­other kick at goal Ampthill handed the kick­ing du­ties to James Pritchard who opened the scor­ing with a penalty from the 22.

Ply­mouth then went down to 14 when lock Dan Col­lier was yel­low carded and Pritchard dou­bled the Ampthill lead with the re­sul­tant penalty.

Ampthill lock Josh Walker joined Col­lier in the bin and while he was off the field Ply­mouth grabbed the lead.

Af­ter a se­ries of for­ward drives Ply­mouth re­leased the ball to wing Matt Cross­combe who went over in

the corner for a gamedefin­ing try.

Ply­mouth fly-half Dan Mug­ford sent his side into the in­ter­val lead­ing by a sin­gle point by slot­ting a fine con­ver­sion from the touchline.

Early in the sec­ond half, Pritchard re­stored Ampthill’s lead with a well struck penalty af­ter Ply­mouth were caught off­side giv­ing the mo­men­tum back to the away side.

The lead changed hands for a fourth time when Mug­ford con­fi­dently put over a penalty given for an il­le­gal tackle.

As the con­di­tions wors­ened Ampthill found them­selves com­ing un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure, which saw them give away a se­ries of penal­ties.

In the 64th minute when Ampthill strayed off­side, Mug­ford knocked over the penalty from 40 me­tres to give Ply­mouth some breath­ing space.

De­spite be­ing tested by Ampthill’s des­per­ate at­tack late in the game, the Ply­mouth de­fence held firm de­spite go­ing down to 14 for a sec­ond time when Grace was carded.

Ampthill head coach Paul Turner said: “We left too many points out there in the first half.

“We could eas­ily have gone into the in­ter­val lead­ing 12-0 but found our­selves 7-6 down.

“Our for­wards worked hard but I was dis­ap­pointed with our set piece – par­tic­u­larly the li­ne­out.”

PIC­TURES: Pin­na­cle

Cross­ing the line: Ply­mouth Al­bion’s Matt Cross­combe touches down, while team­mate Sean Lons­dale wres­tles for the ball with Ampthill’s Joe Ber­cis, right

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