Plymouth Albion are at home this Saturday, March 3, to tenth-placed Rosslyn Park in National League One (KO 3pm).
Kieran Hallett’s side will be looking to build on their recent successes against second-placed Darlington Mowden Park and seventh-placed Birmingham Moseley.
Albion staged an impressive comeback against Moseley at Billesley Common last Saturday, overturning a 16-5 deficit to win the fixture in some style, 16-20.
The performance was all the more remarkable because of injuries sustained to key players during the game, including back row Sam Daly and fly-half Harvey Skinner.
Daly eventually returned to the field with his knee heavily bandaged but Skinner’s ankle injury forced a backs re-shuffle, with centre Dean Squire taking on number 10 duties.
Head coach Kieran Hallett recalled: “In the first ten minutes we played all the rugby and had chances to score. We converted one and got held up over the line a couple of times but we were all over them.
“Then the wheels started to fall off! We didn’t agree with the referee at scrum time and that led to frustration. Then we lost Harvey about 20 minutes in, and when you lose your fly-half with no other recognised 10 in the squad, the game plan goes out of the window.
“We had to adapt and find a way to win, and that’s what we did.”
Hallett was delighted with his team’s response after the first half: “Everyone stayed calm and there was real clarity about what we needed to do to win.
“In the second half, while it took us ten or 15 minutes to find our feet, from that point on there was almost an air of inevitability about it.”
Hallett was quick to praise dual-registered Exeter centre Tom Hendrickson, who not only scored both his team’s second half tries but also made a last gasp tackle to curtail a Mosely counter-attack: “His tackle at the end was probably most valuable. His two tries were good as he picked out the weak defender, but they came off the back of some excellent team play.
“Tom managed to make that tackle but three or four players were all chasing hard.
“I may have been close to a heart attack at that point, having worked so hard to get us back in that position!
“I would have liked us to have got the bonus point but we will take that win in the circumstances.”
While Rosslyn Park have lost four of their last five fixtures, Albion needed a last-minute try to achieve 26-26 draw when the two sides met at Priory Lane in November.
Hallett says the London club are not to be underestimated: “They have some dangerous players including a couple of guys in their back line who have played premiership rugby. Up front they have had their difficulties but it is another tough game.
“That said, we are at home where we are more comfortable and we fully expect to win.”
The visitors will meet an Albion camp full of confidence after back-to-back positive performances against quality sides.
“Backing up the Darlington performance with a win at Moseley was massive for us. There are a few sore bodies starting to mount up that we will have to manage but that has been the case ever since we had the games called off. We knew it was coming but at this point of the season it doesn’t worry me too much.
“Our understanding of what we are trying to do is still there, as was evident by the position changes at the weekend, so if we have to adapt our training it is not the end of the world.”
Herbie Stupple remains unavailable for selection and there are further changes in the pack as Hallett has decided to rest 20-year-old back row Sam Daly.
“Sam has put his body through the wringer recently so we are giving him a week off. George Mills has played very well the last couple of weeks having been frustrated after missing out for a while and we have him in at his recognised position of seven, while Eoghan Grace is also available.”
Second row Dan Swain also impressed at Moseley: “I thought Dan added a really big impact off the bench so we have got options there to juggle things.”
Plymouth Albion team to face Rosslyn Park at Brickfields on Saturday, March 3, KO 3pm.
15 Jordan Gott, 14 Matt Crosscombe, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Tom Hendrickson, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Joe Snow, 1 Will Norton, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Jack Owlett, 4 Dan Swain, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 Ed Holmes, 7 George Mills, 8 Dan Williams (Captain).
16 Dan Pullinger, 17 Rupert Freestone, 18 Eoghan Grace, 19 Cam Setter, 20 Dan Powell.