National League 1: Bishop's Stortford overturn 16-point half-time deficit to beat Plymouth Albion
Bishop’s Stortford 32 (3) Plymouth Albion 19 (19)
In a game of two wildly contrasting halves, Bishop's Stortford scored four second-half tries to overturn a half-time deficit of 16 points against Plymouth Albion in their first National League 1 home match of the season, writes John Allanson.
The hosts trailed 19-3 at the interval, but tries from captain Sam Winter and winger Chris Smith – their second in successive games following the 18-18 draw in the season opener at Tonbridge Juddians – replacement Seb Brownhill, having been yellow-carded, and a penalty try secured the bonus-point win.
Incredibly, 48 of the 51 points were scored at the Banksy's Bar end; Stortford fly-half Dan Cole's penalty kick just after the midway point of the first half was the only score at the fire station end.
The win lifts joint head coaches Marcus Cattell and Tom Coleman's side to sixth in the table with seven points, behind leaders Rosslyn Park, Taunton Titans and Rams on the maximum 10, Cinderford on nine and Birmingham Moseley on eight.
Plymouth got off to a flying start, forcing a penalty straight from the opening drop-out and driving over for an unconverted try from the line-out through front-row forward Max Norey.
With the visitors dominating line-outs and scrums, the hosts struggled to get into the game at all and were 8-0 down after 13 minutes after conceding a penalty under their own posts. Fly-half Tom Putt slotted over the kick.
It looked as if it was going to be a torrid afternoon when Stortford’s first promising move of the game broke down inside Plymouth’s 22 and the loose ball was fly-hacked the length of the field for winger Alex Ducker to touch down and make it 13-0.
Cole knocked over a good long penalty to get his team on the scoreboard after 22 minutes. Albion stayed on top but settled for two more Putt penalties to close out the half.
Cole kicked a second penalty soon after the restart, but the key turning point came after 50 minutes when Stortford ran a turnover ball from their own line. Winter made a clean break, running some 30 metres before kicking ahead. Albion conceded a penalty and quick passing saw the skipper over for a converted try to reduce the deficit to 19-13.
Discipline then let Plymouth down, conceding three yellow cards on 50, 60 and 70 minutes, offset partially by one to Brownhill.
More good Stortford handling saw Smith step and crash through a double tackle to go under the posts. Cole landed the conversion to put the hosts in front for the first time, 20-19.
A penalty try for collapsing a maul driving at the line stretched the lead to 27-19 and the comeback victory was sealed with an unconverted try from Brownhill off the back of a driving maul.
Stortford: Powell, Swannack, Winter (c), Ayrton J, Smith, Cole, Coleman; Roberts, Rayment, Peverelle, Charter, Thacker, Lewis, Wrafter, Burnett. Replacements: King, Brownhill, McCrone, Banks R, Walker.
Plymouth: Jones, Nowell, To’a, Weeks, Ducker, Putt, Clement; Southworth, Norey, McFarland, Collier, Sherriff, Clemson, Sheridan, Stupple. Replacements: Salter, Williams, Rukhadze, Goldsmith, Mulberry.
Bishop’s Stortford – Tries: Winter 50, Smith 62, penalty try 69, Brownhill 72. Cons: Cole 51 & 63. Pens: Cole 22 & 45.
Plymouth – Tries: Norey 1, Ducker 15. Pens: Putt 13, 32 & 39.
Referee: Veryan Boscawen. Star man: James Ayrton, Bishop’s Stortford. Attendance: 511.
NATIONAL LEAGUE 1 RESULTS
Birmingham Moseley 22 Blackheath 20
Bishop's Stortford 32 Plymouth Albion 19
Cinderford 29 Caldy 21
Darlington Mowden Park 32 Taunton Titans 38
Old Elthamians v Chinnor cancelled
Rams 24 Tonbridge Juddians 13
Rosslyn Park 60 Leeds Tykes 10
Sale FC 15 Cambridge 7