Plymouth Albion will be hoping to welcome the New Year with a win when they face Bishop’s Stortford at the Brickfields this Saturday, January 6, in their first game of 2018.
2017 – the club’s first full year under head coach Kieran Hallett’s leadership – was a highly successful one, with an unexpected second-place finish in the 2016/17 season and a 12-month unbeaten home run, sealed in their last home game of 2017 against Old Albanian RFC.
Former fly-half Hallett took over the reins in 2016 and immediately issued his squad with a performance mandate to amass 117 league points for the season, with the rationale that it would be one more point than gave Richmond promotion to the Championship the previous year.
His team responded and went on a 13-match winning streak to deliver and exceed the standard requested, achieving 118 league points – a phenomenal outcome.
What made the achievement all the more remarkable was that the 2016/17 season was the club’s first following administration in April 2016.
The 32-year-old former Cornish Pirate says: “I think we probably exceeded our own expectations to be honest! I certainly didn’t expect us to go on a 13-game winning run after Christmas. But we did. I think we surprised a few people and hopefully we are doing that again this season.”
Under Hallett’s leadership Plymouth Albion has continued to improve on and off the field this season. Currently the team lies third in National League One, with 15 of the campaign’s 30 matches completed.
Albion rounded off the year with an impressive 33-29 away victory over Esher, but Hallett is refusing to rest on his laurels and has a couple of resolutions for the year ahead.
“My new year’s resolution would be to stop giving so many penalties away…that would be a good one! Someone told me the other day we are the most yellow-carded team in the league at the moment so dealing with that would be a good place to start.
“We are making improvements in terms of closing out tight games, such as the two games we drew and the close ones we lost, I would like to think that if we were to replay those games now, we would come away with four wins. Those would probably be the things I would try to change for the squad. “