Third-placed Plymouth Albion travel to London this Saturday, November 4, for their National League One game with Rosslyn Park at The Rock, Priory Lane (KO 3pm).
Both sides lost narrowly away from home in their respective fixtures last weekend.
Albion were defeated with the last kick of the game in a ten try thriller away from home against Darlington Mowden Park, while Rosslyn Park suffered their sixth defeat of the season at Old Elthamians (34-27).
Head coach Kieran Hallett says: “Our performance was better than the week before. Against Old Elthamians we lacked a bit of energy and were a bit flat.
“This week our energy and work rate went through the roof. We lacked a bit of accuracy at times, but to go up there and be the first team to take two points off them at home and to score five tries …there are a lot of positives there.”
Hallett was forced to make significant changes to the pack as a result of injuries to captain Herbie Stupple and influencial back row George Mills. Eoghan Grace went from number six to eight and took up the captaincy while second row Ed Holmes moved to the back row to join Sam Daly.
Hallett says: “We knew Herbie was going to be unavailable and you can’t really replace someone like him. George Mills dropped out later in the week. To be fair, Sam Daly, who slotted in, and John Kelly, who came off the bench, were both exceptional. They were two of our best players on the day, so I don’t think that affected us too much.”
On Rosslyn Park, currently tenth in the table, Hallett says: “They are probably a bit disappointed with how their season has gone so far. They finished very strongly last year. They have lost a few games they would have expected to win, but they are still a good side and very dangerous.
“There are a few factors that aren’t ideal. It is quite a long trip and we are having to travel the same day. The 3G pitch creates another aspect to the game. But we are going to draw on the positives from Darlington and be confident in our performance.
“It is one of the grounds we didn’t win at last year so that’s something we can talk about as a group. It is going to be a tough day. We have now gone two games without a win, so that’s a real focus point for us this week.
“I don’t think the pitch will affect us too much. It is what it is. All of our boys have played on 3G pitches plenty of times and they are used to it.”
Home to Ampthill on November 11 and away at Coventry at the end of the month, Albion face a tough run of fixtures in November.
Hallett says: “We’re still really excited about our November fixtures. If someone had said before Saturday that we could take two points off Darlington we would certainly have considered it. You can’t win or lose a league in November! We are the only team in the top half of the table that has been to Blackheath and Darlington and we have taken two points from both of them. Come the end of April those four points might be invaluable.”
There are a number of changes to this week’s squad. Herbie Stupple and George Mills remain unavailable so the pack shuffles again with second row John Kelly making his first start following his strong performance off the bench last week. Last week’s back row is unaltered with Ed Holmes and Sam Daly joining captain Eoghan Grace at number eight.
The backs get more of a shake-up with Seta Raumakita moving out to the wing, Harvey Skinner and Dean Squire in the centre and Jack Arnott at full back.
Plymouth Albion team to face Rosslyn Park at The Rock, Priory Lane, on Saturday, November 4, (KO 3pm):
15 Jack Arnott, 14 Matt Crosscombe, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Harvey Skinner, 11 Seta Raumakita, 10 Dan Mugford, 9 Joe Snow, 1 Will Norton, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Jack Owlett, 4 John Kelly, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 Ed Holmes, 7 Sam Daly, 8 Eoghan Grace (Captain).
16 Dan Pullinger, 17 Rupert Freestone, 18 Dan Swain, 19 Cameron Setter, 20 Matt Shepherd