DIRECTOR of Rugby Seb Reynolds admitted Plymouth Albion were worthy winners after Rams’ second-half fightback fell just short in a 27-24 reverse at Brickfields.

The visitors had gone in front with skipper Robbie Stapley claiming his 97th try for the club at the back of a maul, but a disastrous 20-minute period saw Plymouth wrest the initiative and a 24-5 lead.

Hooker Harry Wilkinson led the way with two tries on the back of the hosts’ own destructive maul, while wings Kyle Speare and Jon Dawe both then crossed with Connor Eastgate – taking over kicking duties with Tom Putt in the sin-bin – landing two fine touchline conversions.

Rams gave themselves hope before the break as Henry Bird’s sizzling break gave them the field position for Max Hayman to crash over, Rowan Grundy with the extras to reduce the deficit to 12 at the interval.

A 54th-minute Eastgate penalty pushed Albion three scores clear, but a brilliant team move finished by Jak Rossiter and a close-range Niall Kidd effort cut the gap to three with five minutes remaining.

However, despite camping inside the Plymouth 22, some outstanding defence gave the Ocean City’s Finest a win which underlined their capabilities in what has been a much-improved campaign in which their home record is one of the best in the division.

Reynolds said: “It was a really good game and Plymouth played very well – they were highly motivated, and their challenge is probably to do that for the remaining games to show they can do that consistently.

“Our guys came back well – we perhaps didn’t deserve to have a shot to win it, but we did and we got two bonus-points from the game which is probably fair.”

He continued: “Rugby goes in waves and it tends to focus around discipline. We started well with good discipline and structure, building pressure and we got a score.

“Then (at the start of the second half) there was a stage where both sides were feeling each other out – either they were going to kick on or we were going to comeback, and it went into a bit of a stalemate.

“I thought when they took the three points it maybe gave us a chance to comeback, and we started to do that, but crucial errors at crucial times cost us.”

The grim weather conditions meant the anticipated 3,000-plus crowd did not fully materialise, but there was still an impressive Albion following bolstered by those taking part in the Men’s Day Out for the St Luke’s Hospice.

And the DoR continued: “It was a really good crowd which probably helped get them across the line, and it was fantastic for the players to perform in front of that.”

The defeat snapped Rams’ eight-match winning run but there were still some outstanding performances, especially in the forwards, with Kidd, Hayman and former Plymouth man Dan Swain excellent.

Reynolds commented: “Niall has been superb to comeback into the side after a long time out and to do 80 minutes back-to-back and look fresh towards the end was great.

“I thought Max came into the game well and there were some other good performances – Swainer coming back in and Robbie leading from the front.

“I can’t fault the effort from the lads, but it wasn’t our day and it’s just one of those things.”

With four games remaining in what has been a compelling National One season, Rams have a week off before welcoming resurgent Taunton Titans to Old Bath Road on Saturday, March 25, and Reynolds concluded: “We’ve had a lot of rugby and a break will be nice, and then onto a very challenging game.”