Mowden Leave It Late To Snatch Thrilling Victory
An incredible game at the Arena sees DMP move up to 2nd in the National One table
'You could hear a pin drop', as home fly half Brett Connon lined up to take the conversion that would overhaul Plymouth Albion RFC's points total and win this National League One contest with the last kick of this enthralling. game at the Northern Echo Arena.
By no means an easy task. Not just because of the pressure of such an important kick, but also at 25 metres out and at a difficult angle, it was 'no gimme'.
However, the strike which followed was the sweetest of his kicks all day and assuredly dissected the uprights heralding scenes on and off the pitch that were reminiscent of the play-off game against Ampthill & District RFC.
In most respects, the final minutes of the game were identical to that promotion winning game, with a passage of play resulting in a try that took the home side from their own half and over the try line, with Ben Frankland this time replacing Zylon McGaffin as the scorer and although the previous conversion was immaterial, this time the kick was vital.
So DMPRFC gained the maximum 5-points in this game and to be fair to Plymouth Albion RFC, their 2-point haul was probably a lot less than they deserved in a 10-try thriller.
Despite some early possession for the visitors, it was perhaps against the run of play when the Connon brothers combined, Brett feeding Grant a deft pass in midfield and the home full back's speed took him through the visitors defensive line, touching down under the posts (5 - 0), with Brett converting (7 - 0).
Plymouth Albion didn't take much longer to respond and when they did, they threatened to end the home sides chances of winning, with a hat-trick of tries in the space of less than 10 minutes.
The first came after an overlap was manufactured by the influential Plymouth fly half Daniel Mugford, with centre Harvey Skinner touching down as last man (7 - 5). The conversion from Mugford was wide.
A similar overlap developed two minutes later, but this time Mugford exploited a stretched defence, finding a gap himself, touching down (7 - 10) and converting his own try putting Plymouth into the lead (7 - 12).
Plymouth's third try was scored by influential hooker Rupert Freestone, who latched on to a catch and drive lineout to dot down, with the home side reeling from the try salvo (7 - 17). Mugford missed the conversion.
Just before the interval, DMP managed to construct their second try from what appeared to be a missed opportunity when an attacking lineout was won by the visitors. When Plymouth tried to break out of defence they too lost the ball after good work from home flanker Dave Fisher who was playing against his former club. The ball was whisked out to home wing Shaun McCartney who beat the lone defender and crashed over (12 - 17). Brett Connon added a difficult conversion from the touchline (14 - 17).
So at oranges, the game was finely balanced and the expectation from the crowd of the next 40 minutes was palpable.
It was the home side that took the first steps to win the game, when home No. 8 and skipper Ollie Hodgson added two tries in the space of two minutes.
His first came courtesy of a blistering break from DMP winger Adam Radwan who jinked his way deep into Plymouth territory before offloading to powerful flanker Simon Uzokwe who continued the move. As the ball was recycled, No. 8 Hodgson forced his way over from close range (19 - 17), Brett Connon converting, taking DMPRFC ahead (21 - 17).
From the restart, DMP made good territory, with Uzokwe carrying well together with an explosive burst by lock Talite Vaioleti who's handling skills brought reward passing the ball to McCartney who's assured footwork allowed him to dance along the touchline. taking out defenders in his wake, before being stopped just short of the line. The ball was spun out to No. 8 Hodgson who crashed over for his brace (26 - 17). The conversion was missed by Brett Connon, but DMP had their try bonus point.
This was never going to be enough at this stage, as Plymouth took the game to the home side, with a pushover try via No. 8 Eoghan Grace (26 - 22), easily converted from near to the posts from Mugford (26 - 24) to edge Plymouth within two points of the home total.
In fact Plymouth took the lead with ten minutes to go when a defensive lineout was lost by DMP and possession to Plymouth led to replacement John Kelly scoring a vital try (26 - 29), converted by Mugford (26 - 31), leaving DMPRFC 5 points adrift.
With the score at three minutes to go, DMPRFC mounted a last gasp effort from within their own 10-metre line. Home forwards and backs combined to haul themselves into the visitors half and then to within 5 yards. In response to an all out assault to tie the game, Plymouth Albion were forced to resort to conceding penalties, culminating with centre Skinner being sin-binned. As the pressure mounted and the phases continued, the home side edged their way closer until centre Ben Frankland squeezed over to level the scores at 31 - 31.
Brett Connon completed the comeback with the resulting conversion (33 - 31) and in doing so brought the final whistle on what had been a totally enthralling game between two form sides.