This was a true humdinger of a match where Albion were undone at the last, by the loss through injury of both scrum and fly halves, and their full back in the bin thirteen minutes from full time, plus a seemingly endless stream of replacements from Wellingtons virtually two Colts sides.
The home side were 12 points to the good within 5 minutes and were looking pretty confident especially as the second of these tries was awarded by the referee who thought there was a foot in touch but decided to award when the line judge said it was ok! Albion were a bit peeved at that and hitback with two converted tries of their own to take a 2 point lead, both tries finished off by Winger Charlie Sturdy and converted by Flanker Harry Roles. Both tries were excellent examples of team play involving many hands and plenty of ball movement and the sheer pace of Sturdy.
The match was being played at a furious pace with many crunching tackles from both sides but the visitors were certainly giving more than they got, and went further ahead, again through Sturdy wide out for Roles to convert.
Wellington came back with a trademark try as their flyhalf tracked sideways and two dummy runners opened the defence for a third to take a short pass and easily cross the Albion line. The visitors had been warned about this well before kick off but failed to prevent three of Wellington’s eight tries being scored like this.
The game was finely balanced with six tries in 25 minutes when Albion managed turnover ball just on halfway, went through a couple of phases and prop Pete Oram handed of one defender, crashed through a second and was high tackled as he crossed for Albions fourth and bonus point try. The high tackle was rewarded with a yellow card but the penalty try was not awarded and the subsequent conversion kick was missed. Half time came and went with a close scoreline of 19 – 26 and game on.
Wellington drew level 5 minutes after the restart with a converted try with an immediate riposte of Charlie Sturdy’s fourth try as the ball popped out of a ruck, and he sprinted fully half the pitch to score a converted try under the posts. At this point as Albion were looking really purposeful and a good bet to win, murphy’s law decided to play and take out both half backs at which time Wellington again drew level.
With no backs replacements the visitors were forced to bring on additional forwards and Roles moved to his previous seasons fly half position with Centre Jay Owens stepping in at Scrum Half. Then with 13 minutes left Full back Carl Peters who had been faultless all match gathered in another high ball and was late charged preventing him chasing his clearence, and when he did so was yellow carded for an innocuous high tackle. The referee ignored the late charge which would likely have seen at least a penalty and possibly a second Wellington Yellow card.
Now with another back out of the match and the back cover lost Wellington managed a further three converted tries, two from high kicks and a third from a chip over. Take nothing away from Wellington who are a classy side, but Albion will be looking to win the home fixture and on this showing are capable of doing so.
Match report by Ray Dickinson