Albion edge nine-try thriller against Leeds
The difference between winning and losing can be miniscule – as Plymouth Albion's last two matches have proved.
Six days before Saturday's one-point win over Leeds at Brickfields, Albion had lost 19-17 at the Cornish Pirates in a game they should have won.
That day they out-scored the Pirates by three tries to two but lost after Rob Cook kicked an 80th-minute penalty.
But on Saturday they won a thrilling match where they had been out-scored five tries to four after Leeds missed a last-gasp kick.
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Saturday's win, which secured Albion their first try-scoring bonus point of the season and moved them up to third in the table, was due to the players' never-say-die attitude.
In the first half Leeds went 11 points up only for Albion to close the gap to just six at the break. And in the second period Leeds again looked to have the game in the bag when they went 26-18 in front with Albion down to 14-men after Jon Vickers had been sin-binned.
Albion would not give up and in the 54th minute Leeds well and truly shot themselves in the foot with a nightmare minute that let Nat Saumi's side back into the match.
Leeds had just gone eight points up with their fourth try of the game and had a one-man advantage but they messed up the restart and Albion scrum-half Ruairi Cushion made a great break before chipping over the visitors' defence.
Leeds full-back David Doherty stupidly and cynically blocked off Cushion for which he was rightly yellow carded.
Referee Ross Campbell resisted the temptation to give a penalty try, but Albion got a penalty and opted for a five-metre scrum.
They pressed and pressed and Leeds found themselves down to 13-men when Freddie Burdon was also yellow carded for a professional foul.
Seconds later Campbell did give Albion a penalty try to leave them just one point behind and with a numerical advantage.
Leeds will also regret not taking three penalty kicks at goal in the first half.
Albion's goal-kicking had cost them victory at the Pirates, with Paul Roberts missing five efforts. However, Roberts won the game for his side by converting three of Albion's four tries and kicking two penalties. His last conversion attempt was right from the touchline and that proved the difference in the end.
Albion took the lead when Leeds failed to find touch with a penalty and the hosts went right up the other end to score through Sam Hocking with Roberts converted.
Leeds hit back with a well-worked try by Curtis Wilson in the corner, which Ford converted. The visitor went ahead after 27 minutes when Ryan Burrows scored a converted try on the left.
Roberts cut the gap with a penalty straight from the restart to make it 14-10 but Leeds went 21-10 up with a controversial try in the corner by Pete Lucock, which Ford converted.
Albion dug deep and narrowed the gap to six points with a try by debutant Toby Howley-Berridge. Roberts added another penalty after the break to make it 21-18.
Leeds then went for the corner and twice Albion illegally stopped them on the line before hooker Jon Vickers was sin-binned. Leeds went for two more line-outs before Phil Nilsen managed to score to make it 26-18.
However, suddenly momentum was back with the home side following the penalty try and two sin-binnings for the visitors. Despite having two men less, Leeds thought they had scored a fifth try in the 65th minute, but referee Campbell ruled they had been held up over the line.
Three minutes from time, the home fans went mad when half-time replacement Henry Slade put a clever kick into the corner and fellow Plymouth youngster Jack Arnott won the race to dive on it and score his first league try. Roberts brilliantly converted to put Albion back in front for the first time since the 12th minute.
In the last minute of normal time Leeds scored from close range through Jacob Rowan on the right. Everyone in the ground knew that if Ford converted it would almost certainly win the game for Leeds. The cheer around Brickfields as it went sailing through the air told you it was not on target long before it got to the posts.