Plymouth Albion will look to bounce back from their defeat against National League One leaders Coventry when they take on Hull Ionians at Brickfields this Saturday, December 2 (KO 3pm).
Head coach Kieran Hallett admitted his side were not at Coventry’s level: “I think a lot of our issues at the weekend were around individual errors.
“Perhaps it was the pressure of the game. I was disappointed by the outcome, but more that it was a big game and we didn’t play to our potential. That frustrated me more. You can’t always control an outcome, but you can control your performance.
“There’s nothing wrong with going away from home, giving it your all and losing. There’s no shame in that. But I didn’t feel that we were 100 per cent at our best at the weekend.”
Albion delivered a strong first half performance and held unbeaten Coventry to a 15-14 score-line going into the break.
It was in the second half the visitors lost touch and conceded two tries in quick succession.
“Ironically, at the start of the second half we were in possession on the half way line. Then a knock-on led to a scrum and a penalty. The penalty led to a line-out and then we didn’t see the ball again for ten minutes.
“They were fine margins – it’s not a disaster and we are not a million miles away but there were a couple of periods when we weren’t as accurate as we needed to be.”
Hallett conceded that Albion’s defensive efforts failed to match the previous performance against Ampthill: ”I’m not sure if there was a hangover (from the Ampthill game), but we weren’t at that level. We were losing collisions and not getting off the line as we like to do. They got a lot of momentum from that.”
Despite Coventry being 11 points clear of second-placed Darlington Mowden Park, Hallett thinks they could still be caught. “They have got some tough games ahead but, the way the league is shaping up, every game is a tough game.
“Will they go the whole season unbeaten like Hartpury? I don’t know. If they do, then fair play. My gut feeling is that they probably won’t. But that’s not something we are going to worry about or control. The goal for us is still to try and improve as a team week in week out and one loss doesn’t change that.”
Mid table Hull Ionians make the journey south to Brickfields on the back of an impressive bonus point win against Old Elthamians. Hallett says: “They are on a good run and have had some strong results in the last few weeks so they will be full of confidence.”
Centre Mat Clark, on loan from Doncaster Knights and returning from an ankle injury, was named NCA Rugby’s National One player of the week after he scored three of the Yorkshire side’s tries last Saturday. Hallett says he is one to watch: “He’s a Championship standard player and someone we will have to deal with if he’s playing against us.
“We can’t allow ourselves to get caught up with what happened last week. We have to move on quickly, put it to bed and concentrate on who is on front of us.”
The former fly half is calling on his team to deliver a positive performance: “It’s really important. The last thing we want to do is follow up with another poor performance. I expect the guys to pick themselves up and produce a backlash.
“We are back at home and we are still very proud of our record and, being totally honest, there are a few boys with some points to prove.”
It is ‘all change’ in the front row for the Hull game with Luke Chapman, Jamie Salter and England U20s Marcus Street replacing Will Norton, Rupert Freestone and Dan Pullinger.
The backs are on the move too, with Cameron Setter coming in at scrum half for Joe Snow, Matt Shepherd starting at full back and Jack Arnott going out to the wing at 14.
Hallett explains: “There are a number of changes, some based on rotation and some on last weekend’s performance. Guys have to start realising that if they don’t perform, they don’t get to play. They have to make sure they take their opportunities.”
Plymouth Albion team to face Hull Ionians at Brickfields on Saturday, December 2 (KO 3pm).
15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Jack Arnott, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Harvey Skinner, 11 Setareki Raumakita, 10 Dan Mugford, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 Luke Chapman, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Marcus Street, 4 Sean Lonsdale, 5 Dan Collier, 6 George Mills, 7 Sam Daly, 8 Eoghan Grace (Captain)
16 Jack Owlett, 17 Rupert Freestone, 18, Dan Swain, 19 Tom Hendrickson, 20 Joe Snow