The Season is 1981/82 and Plymouth Albion, under their Captain Ray Westlake and Vice-Captain Dave Venables, faced off against Exeter University on Wednesday 24th February in a 19:30 kick-off.
In the previous weekend, they had defeated Blackheath 19-9 at Beacon Park, making it 12 wins on the bounce. The question Supporters were asking was “how much longer can this unbeaten run continue?”
The answer was a 13th victory, Albion overcoming the University 14-3. The University could have been forgiven for feeling that they had been defeated by one Albion Player. With Westlake on the bench having recovered from injury, Albion were inspired by captain for the evening, Venables.
Venables extended his try scoring to 12 in five Matches with another Hat-Trick. Altogether Venables, who has played for both Devon and Cornwall in the County Championship, was now on 21 tries for the season. Rumour has it that Venables promised to “paint the town red” with his fellow forwards if he reached 25 tries for the season.
Sadly, the Albion Threequarters lacked ideas in how to break down a tough tackling University defence, which was sound. Albion camped for long periods of time in their opponent’s half, but due to some fine midfield tackling by Centres Simon Bailey and Ian Minto, their efforts were thwarted.
But Albion did not need threequarters when they had Forwards of Venables’ calibre, his first try in the opening half came from a driving Scrum, and the second when he charged through from a lineout. He secured his hattrick in injury time when he intercepted a University pass and ran 30 metres to score.
To their credit, the University were very lively in their attacking play in which Nick Marment, Bailey and tricky running Wing Peter Drewett proved most dangerous.
Paul Carter slotted the conversion for Venables’ opening try, while University Fly-Half Viv Thomas kicked a Drop Goal early in the second half.
Albion XV. 15.K.Turton,14.P.Marsh,13.S.Gibbens.12.B.Hain.11.G.Pearson.10.P.Carter.9.B.Fairgrieve.8.D.Venables.7.S.Deasey.6.J.Baxter.5.T.Chapman.4.G.Lovell.3.B.Steer.2.I.Martin.1.C.Hocking.
Some of you may re-call that Exeter Universities Wing, Pete Drewett, had a short spell as Albion’s Head Coach and Director of Rugby at the Brickfields; he was appointed in November 2011.