This evenly contested game at College Way ended quite bizarrely with the visitors snatching the win and thus the points with the very last play of the game. Earlier, Albion had been numerically prejudiced as the visitors contrived to field 15 players, notwithstanding that one of their number had been sent from the field of play.
Admittedly when the referee had this pointed out to him by Frost, Albion’s captain, he duly awarded a penalty as the law required, but the extra man had been played for some 15/20 minutes before that. Nevertheless it is fair to say that Tor’s try came when they were correctly applying 14 players.
One again Albion’s squad was boosted by the lack of a Colts XV fixture and several took their place. Denovan who gained 1st XV honours a few seasons ago, made a surprise appearance at scrum-half to partner Coates and there were returns for Willis and Richards in the three-quarter line and Hale and Miller in the forwards.
Albion kicked into a stiff breeze in the first half and it was the visitors who made the early running with Willis being called in to make a try-saving tackle as the tall Tor centre broke through. Albion however hit back and a concerted backs move sent Richards up the left side until he was halted deep in Tor territory. Denovan then broke up the blind side and from there Albion’s forwards inched towards the Tor line. However like a lot of Albion’s play during this game the poor last pass or a knock-on spoiled the build-up. Tor recovered and made ground and it was now Albion’s turn to defend. Just before half time Tor rejected several possible kicks at goal from penalties hoping to score the elusive try. Half time arrived with the game scoreless.
Early in the second half, young centre Owens put in some good tackles to prevent Tor progress. In the 51st minute the try finally came when after a catch and drive from the line-out Albion’s forwards surged towards the line and when the ball came loose, Denovan dodged over for the try. Tor hit back strongly, continually capitalising on Albion’s handling errors and making good ground. Hicks and Frost continued their good work in taking Albion forward and they were aided by some fine drives from Gibson and Buck.
Tor’s replacement forward was sent off after only a few minutes on the field but somehow Tor still managed to retain a full side. Despite their reduction of one player and the penalty awarded against them for this default, Tor surged back on the attack to try and grab the vital try. The game entered the last play phase and Tor held possession and made progress towards Albion’s line. Albion were penalised and Tor opted for the scrum. They tried to rumble the scrum over Albion’s line but the home side infringed and the referee had no hesitation in awarding the penalty try which was duly converted with the last kick of the match to bring the visitors a 7-5 victory.
A good match between two even sides but one which Albion should have put away well before the end. Perhaps the size of the squad was detrimental this time and it will remain to be seen whether such abundance of playing talent will be available next week at Minehead. Tor could have won the game on penalty kicks alone but decided to go for the tries and ironically their only award was a penalty try but vital though it was.
Team: Willis Richards Owens Taylor J Saunders; Coates Denovan; Hicks Frost Hale Gibson Miller March Clark Harbour. Replacements – Used – Ruddle Burrows Lipscombe Buck Walford Burge Barnett. Unused – Berry Pear Polley Pearce.
Scores: Try – Denovan