Tor II arrived as one of the likely front runners for the league title this season after their strong performance last time. However a calamitous defeat at Burnham questioned their pedigree but a 27-29 reverse at home to Wyvern last week indicated their potential. Albion had made a good start on the road at Wellington last week and were keen to maintain the momentum.
It was the visitors who took the early initiative as Albion’s outsides failed to kill the ball on the ground – a familiar trait throughout the game and the Tor forwards broke away but desperate Albion defence just prevented an early score. It was then Albion’s turn to attack with Higginson, Buller and Hillman in the van. They peppered the Tor line without too much finesse and squandered several try-scoring opportunities. Even Albion’s trademark catch and drive was well defended by Tor. However in the 20th minute, Albion finally broke through when Buller – not for the first time creating some space – sent skipper Frost in for a try which Page converted off the posts. Seven minutes later Albion now attacking continually, increased the lead and with Hillman always prominent, Buller crossed for Page again to add the extras. Tor were plucky to say the least and got their consolation in the 35th minute when very poor defending by Albion in their own in goal cost them a try. Once again failure to kill the ball on the ground resulted in a simple score for the visitors.
Early in the second half Tor attacked and Albion surprisingly did not minor the ball from a loose Tor kick and accordingly put themselves under pressure. The game was now becoming more even with both sides having long spells of pressure but to no avail. Page’s 60th minute penalty broke the deadlock to put Albion 17-5 ahead. However the visitors hit back with their second try after pressurising Albion’s line for several minutes. Page missed a penalty in the 71st minute and Buller now in his third position of the afternoon at stand-off – having started at hooker and appeared later in the centre – set off on a meandering run to take Albion back to the Tor 22. The same player made another excellent break in the 74th minute as Albion burst upfield but could not put the finishing touches. Three minutes from the end Albion conceded a free kick in the Tor 22 and failed to retreat ten metres; Tor took the quick penalty and weaved their way through some woeful Albion defence to score at the posts to take a 19-17 lead. There were still seven minutes of added time as Albion surged back to try and recapture the lead. They had a great opportunity but lost a five metre scrum and Tor gleefully cleared.
A disappointing conclusion and Albion will certainly need to improve two particular areas of their game in the weeks to come. Firstly the failure to fall on the ball on the ground was apparent on several occasions, not least when the visitors scored their first try. Then giving up the ball so tamely by using poor body positions and protecting the ball in possession. Time and time again Albion lost the ball going into contact. Notwithstanding, there were several fine performances, particularly from Hillman and Buller. Next week Albion journey to Yeovil who failed to appear in their away match on Saturday. No doubt they will find renewed strength at home.
Team: Coates; Willis Bertonshaw Clark Ward; Collins Page; Higginson Frost Hillman Buck Burrows Saunders Buller Shaw. Replacements – Used – Harbour Moulding Ruddle D Walker Hobbs. Unused – Berry Milburn Knott McCarthy.
Scorers: – Tries – Frost Buller. Conversions: Page (2). Penalty: Page.
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