LEEDS Carnegie seem to love their trips to the West Country as they made it three wins out of three away to another of the region’s Greene King IPA Championship sides.
Plymouth Albion went the same way as Cornish Pirates and Bristol before them as the Yorkshiremen won their fifth league match on the road this season to move into third place in the table, only three points off top spot.
Fly-half Glyn Hughes was the star of the show, landing five penalties in a 100 per cent kicking display, with the last of his three-pointers coming four minutes from time to put Leeds ahead for the first occasion in the match.
Even then they had to survive a late scare, when Albion fly-half Declan Cusack attempted a 35-metre drop goal with the last kick of the game, but it fell just under the crossbar.
Leeds head coach James Lowes said: “It is a tough place to get a win so we are really pleased with the four points.
“The lads are a little bit disappointed with some of the stuff they did and that we couldn’t play like we have been doing, but it is a fantastic victory and great credit to the boys for digging in and finding a way to win.
“It was about putting ourselves in decent field positions, which we didn’t do in the first half, and then relying on the opposition to give us penalties.
“We are all disappointed we didn’t score a try. We created one or two half chances, and if we had taken one of those we would have opened up a little bit.”
A key aspect of finding good field position was full-back Steve McColl’s booming kicks downfield.
“We decided in the second half to get Plymouth as far away from our line as possible. Stephen has got a big kick and we wanted him to use that a little bit more, and he sent a few balls down, which put us in good field positions, and then Glyn Hughes found a little bit of form with the boot and kicked well,” said Lowes.
“There is a long way to go, but getting points at places like Plymouth will help massively and build a little bit of confidence.”
The match was far from being a classic on a pitch in remarkably good condition after all the stormy weather.
Albion led 9-3 at the break, with three Cusack penalties to one from Hughes.
Two more Hughes strikes after 51 and 59 minutes, with one hitting the top of the crossbar and going over, levelled things up at 9-9, before Albion scored the game’s only try midway through the half when scrum-half Ruairi Cushion dummied his way over from a close-range scrum.
Cusack crucially missed the touchline conversion before two more Hughes penalties in the last 11 minutes sealed victory for Carnegie, who gave debuts to recent loan signings Jon Clarke and Harry Casson off the bench.
Plymouth Albion: Elder, Bowen, Stevens, Howley-Berridge, Woods, Cusack, Cushion (Rowley 72), Cowan-Dickie (Evans 62), Cowan-Dickie (Harrison 62), Fairbrother (Morton 76), Beukeboom, Graham (Matavesi 69), Stephen, Langley, Oakley (capt). Subs not used: Mugford, Nonu.
Leeds Carnegie: McColl, Vickerman (J Clarke 51), Griffin, Burdon, D Doherty, Hughes, Hampson (J Doherty 63), Harris (Imiolek 57), Nilsen capt, J Currie (Hooper 51), Smith (Casson 51), Myerscough, Beck, Doyle, Jones (Walker 63). Subs not used: Walker.
Referee: Martin Fox (RFU).