Plymouth Albion welcome Loughborough Students to Brickfields this Saturday, May 12, for the final game of their National League One season (KO 3pm).
Originally scheduled for January 20, the tie was postponed when the visitors deemed the pitch unplayable and a subsequently re-arranged fixture – on March 31 – was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
Last week Albion romped to a nine-try, 53-14 win over Rosslyn Park, while Loughborough’s last game was a 24-17 defeat the previous week against Darlington Mowden Park.
Head coach Kieran Hallett was pleased with both the scoreline and performance: “Look, we know Rosslyn Park didn’t put their strongest side out. They had guys on holiday, or whatever, and injuries. They only fielded 17 players in the squad but that’s been our scenario for the past month and we just have to get on with it. From our point of view we can only beat who’s in front of us and we did a good job of doing it.
“I was very happy with how we played and we are looking to finish on a high this weekend.”
Albion again made use of Exeter Academy’s under 18s, naming four in the match day squad and centre Robbie Weeks was the stand out performer with a hat-trick of tries.
Hallett values the youngsters’ contribution: “They have been very important in the last few weeks but also looking ahead as well. It’s exciting that they have not only adapted to playing at this level quickly, but they are starting to excel. They are all going to be with us next year so seeing them getting that experience and game time now is really good for them.
“It means we have more competition for places once we get everyone back fit.”
Hallett is keen to get the Loughborough fixture under way at the third time of asking.
“We are just looking forward to finishing the season with another home win and we will have to work hard to do it. Hopefully the sun will be out, we get a decent crowd and finish on a high note.”
Overall, the former fly-half is very satisfied with his first full season at Albion’s helm.
“Last year was made easy by the way the guys were playing but this season has been a lot more challenging. If you look at the changes that happened over the summer and other challenges we had to face, I think we have done incredibly well to finish fourth and hopefully push on and finish third.
“Seeing the young lads perform well the last few weeks has been a big highlight. I think for me it is just seeing the guys develop and get better as the season has gone on. We did lose some good players last summer and we didn’t have the money to replace like for like. The guys we brought in took a while to find their feet but now we are getting back to a level where we can be really competitive again.
“Losing at home to Coventry and losing that record was a disappointment but there is absolutely no shame in losing two home games in two years to two sides that have been promoted.
“We are looking to carry on that unbeaten record again and, once the season starts, hopefully we will be pushing up near that top spot.”
Regarding this week’s squad, Hallett explains it will look very similar to last week’s: “There won’t be too many changes as we didn’t pick up any injuries from the weekend so we should be OK.
“We have Seta Raumakita back from Navy rugby duty. He played very well in the Army Navy game at Twickenham last weekend and hasn’t been able to train but is there if we need him.“
Dual-registered Exeter scrum half Joe Snow has been away training with England Under 20s this week but may also back in the mix.
Hallett explains: “We are a little bit up in the air but we are kind of used to that at this stage.”
The club is offering deals for this game for students and serving and former military personnel.
Students can gain ground entry for £7.50 on production of an NUS card, representing a saving of 50% off the usual price of £15, while serving and former military personnel can gain entry for £10 with valid ID, saving £5 off the usual price.
Plymouth Albion team to face Loughborough Students at Brickfields on Saturday, May 12 (KO 3pm).
15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Jordan Gott, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Robbie Weeks, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 Will Norton, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Luke Chapman, 4 Lewis Pearson, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 Dan Williams, 7 Jack Innard, 8 Herbie Stupple.
16 James Kenny, 17 Benjamin Phillips, 18 Luke Flack, 19 Seta Raumakita.