Albion’s Dirtrackers journeyed to a very muddy Minehead on Saturday but were fortunate to escape the rain which fell immediately after the end of the match. After enjoying the luxury of some 25/26 in the squad at home the previous week, the DT’s were down to the bare bones with just 2 replacements. This was despite the fact that yet again, some of the Colts XV came into the squad with their match yet again being postponed. Tidball made a welcome reappearance in the centre and Gibson moved to prop, with Colt Barnett coming in on the blind side flank.
Minehead typically played down the slope in the first half and in the third minute, created a fine drive from a line-out, rumbling Albion back some 20 metres from which they conceded a penalty and Minehead took a 3-0 lead. Five minutes later after Minehead had taken a quick line-out which caught Albion unawares, Albion’s defence scrambled back and temporarily held the problem, but again conceded a penalty in front which the home side kicked.
Penalties were now raining against Albion with some frequency including an advance of 10 metres which almost cost the visitors a try. However, Albion weathered the storm and after 20 minutes attacked themselves for the first time and the referee’s whistle started favouring the visitors; they moved upfield with some aplomb to such an extent that Frost almost escaped from a penalty but was just held.
Albion lost Willis with a leg injury at this juncture and Burge replaced. Despite continuing to attack, Albion lost the ball at vital times and turned down several kickable penalties which might have put them back in the frame. Minehead recovered their poise and hacked the ball down field to put the pressure back on the visitors, but desperate defence with Tidball and Taylor prominent for Albion, kept them out. With half-time beckoning, 0-6 would have been a commendable achievement by the visitors, but just before half-time, Minehead finally made their forward power count with a try under the posts which was duly converted.
Miller’s deft kick into the corner put Albion back into a good position but they could not garner any points before half time and went in 0-13 down.
The peculiarities of the Minehead pitch means that the home side often attack up the slope and it took just 7 minutes of the half for Minehead to do precisely that and they scored under the posts to advance the lead to 20-0. Albion had a lot of the game and in the 65th minute, were rewarded when after some concerted attacks they managed to free Richards for a try at the posts which Frost duly converted to reduce the arrears.
The game became something of a slog with tempers frayed. Albion’s habit of querying refereeing decisions will always go against them and none more so as Coates was yellow carded 6 minutes from the end. Minehead took advantage and sped over for their final try in the corner. The game ended with Albion again putting in a spirited response but just failing to grab any further score.
A considerable change of personnel and numbers with many positional changes never helps, but once again, the spoils in this fixture have gone to the home side with Albion winning comfortably at College Way and Minehead exacting just revenge.
Next week the Dirtrackers look at their local encounter with Morganians with an eye on the double for the season.
Team: Walford; Willis Tidball Taylor Richards; Bertonshaw Coates; Hicks Frost Barnett Miller Burrows Ruddle Harbour Gibson. Replacements: Used – Berry Burge.
Scorers: Richards – Try. Frost – Conversion.