Fly-half Joe Carlisle kicked 20 points as leaders Elthamians won an eight-try thriller with Plymouth Albion, 40-29, at College Meadow on Saturday.

It was the Old Boys’ seventh successive victory in National One and set up a mouth-watering title showdown at second-placed Ampthill next weekend.

In a blistering, end-to-end encounter, it was Plymouth who raced into a 14-0 lead after only seven minutes, capitalising on home errors to score tries through Josh Skelcey and the outstanding Matt Shepherd who intercepted a loose pass just outside his own 22 and ran 60 metres unopposed to touch down by the posts.

It was a disastrous start for the home side in a fast and furious opening 15 minutes. But with their pack securing the majority of possession they worked their way into Plymouth territory and hit back with two tries of their own through locks Fred Hosking and Adam Batt to level the scores after 20 minutes.

Carlisle and Shepherd swapped penalties but it was Plymouth who were to have the last word of an entertaining opening 40 minutes when slick hands from the backs enabled centre Jon Dawe to touch down and give his side a deserved 24-20 interval lead.

The game continued in the same attacking vein after the break, but with the elements behind them and Carlisle pulling the strings, OEs began to take a stranglehold on proceedings.

Captain Hamish Barton crashed over from close range on 50 minutes after his forwards had driven a lineout to within a few metres of the try-line and Carlisle kicked a third penalty to move OEs into a 30-24 lead.

But the visitors weren’t finished and they cut the deficit to just one point when No.8 Herbie Stupple dived over from a 5m scrum.

However, indiscipline at the breakdown was to cost Plymouth dearly as Carlisle kicked a fourth penalty and then with seven minutes remaining, replacement scrum-half Rhys Morgan darted down the blindside of a maul to grab the crucial bonus point try and seal an impressive victory.