During the week when most of us were contemplating resolutions and festive excesses, Pete Drewett was left to ponder his rugby future having resigned as Director of Rugby at Plymouth Albion, writes Richard Grainger.
Drewett, the former Head Coach at Exeter Chiefs, and his assistant Phil Greening had been at the helm at Brickfields for less than a month, having replaced Graham Dawe at the end of November.
“The club has lost the support of a financial backer”, said a club spokesman, “in all the circumstances, Pete Drewett [and Phil Greening] did not feel able to stay with the club. We tried our best to keep the coaching team in place. We will maintain contact to explore options.” Whether this may mean the return of Drewett and Greening is unclear as neither Drewett nor anyone from Albion would comment further.
John Roberts, assistant coach under both Dawe and Drewett, and Nat Saumi will take over the coaching duties in the short term.
Ironically, evidence of Drewett and Greening’s positive impact during their brief tenure came in the form of the 18-6 win over visitors Doncaster Knights on Friday evening.
A lethargic performance from Doncaster in atrocious conditions at Brickfields led to Plymouth’s fifth home win of the season – the same as second-placed Bedford; however Albion have yet to win away and remain second from the foot of the table.
Playing with a strong wind behind them in the first period, two tries from Tyson Lewis, one converted by James Love who also added a penalty, gave them a 15-3 half time lead. The Knights could only muster two David McIlwaine penalties in reply and, despite the elements, Plymouth finished the stronger.
Also on Friday evening, Bristol ran out winners at Meadow Lane and their 24-35 bonus point defeat of Nottingham leaves them seven points clear of Bedford at the top.
James Merriman opened the scoring with a try for the visitors and Jon Goodridge exploited weak tackling to add a second immediately after the restart. Bristol led 6-13 at the interval, and Ruki Tipuna and Sean Marsden touched down in the second period to seal the win and secure the bonus point. However, Joe Duffy scored twice for the home side to provide respectability. Follow this link to view the Bristol tries: http://www.bristolrugby.co.uk/news/7472/video-nottingham-vs-bristol-rugby/.
A late penalty try allowed Moseley to snatch victory at the Old Deer Park on Saturday. Joe Ajuwa’s seventh Championship try of the season had earlier given London Welsh the lead, but the Exiles failed to take their chances and turn pressure into points, losing 7-10.
Esher surprised everybody on New Year’s Eve by spoiling Rotherham’s party with a comfortable 24-12 win at Molesey Road. Rotherham head coach Andre Bester was magnanimous in defeat, “We did make some mistakes but even if we were on form, we would have found it hard to win against this side”.
With their first win of the season under their belts, coach Mike Schmid will be looking forward to this weekend’s trip to Bristol and, although already consigned to a place in the relegation play-offs, Esher will be beginning to believe that then can stay up.
On New Year’s Day, Bedford added to London Welsh’s miserable weekend with an emphatic 32-13 home win over the Cornish Pirates.
And finally, Leeds is one of the two Championship grounds currently deemed fit to grace the Premiership. It is a fine place to watch rugby, but on the evidence of a scrappy New Year’s Day encounter with London Scottish, it will be some time before visitors from the top flight arrive at Headingley.
Tommy Bell, who was the only Leeds player on the scoreboard with a try, a conversion and four penalties, won it for Leeds with the final kick of the game from the left touchline.
Torrential rain prior to kick off meant that each side was content to put the ball in the air and invite the other to make a mistake. The Exiles played the conditions rather better and thoroughly deserved their 11-3 lead after 32 minutes.
All the Exiles points – a try and four penalties – came from fly half Dan Mugford. When Exiles’ flanker Anthony Andrews suffered a dislocated knee, a long break ensued and this seemed to galvanise the home side who went on to win 19-17.
Scottish had looked the better team until they faded in the last five minutes and conceded costly penalties. Check out the highlights below…
All this leaves the Championship looking like this: http://clubs.rfu.com/Fixtures/MatchByDivision.aspx?DivID=130433319Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.