Fourth-placed Plymouth Albion head to the Midlands this Saturday, February 24, to play their rearranged fixture against seventh-placed Birmingham Moseley in National League One (KO 3pm).
Kieran Hallett’s side will be looking to build on last weekend’s impressive 34-19 home victory over second-placed Darlington Mowden Park.
Head coach Hallett said his side has been getting better and better week on week: “We were pretty dominant from start to finish against a team that were probably favourites going into it. They are second in the league and for most of the game we made them look pretty ordinary.”
The performance was made all the more impressive as a result of the absence – due to injuries – of a number of key players, including fly-half Dan Mugford and back row forwards Herbie Stupple and Eoghan Grace. Hallett is confident in his squad’s strength in depth: “Everyone is able to come in and do a job as and when they are needed. Everyone stood up and performed well.”
For most of the game, DMP were strong in defence, particularly off the line, and Albion were resilient in attack, scoring after multiple pick-and-go phases. Hallett was pleased with the character and discipline shown by his team: “That is one of the messages we tried to put across the last few weeks. At Old Elthamians we had those five-metre pressured situations and let them off the hook though errors. We spoke about wanting to get that out of our game, so that once we are there we score. The patience and ball retention we showed were exceptional.”
This Saturday’s game against Birmingham Moseley was originally scheduled for November but called off due to a frozen pitch. Despite his team’s away record falling short of their home performances, Hallett is confident they can keep improving on the road: “I don’t particularly see it as a home and away thing. Our performance against Old Elthamians was better than against Caldy so I’d fully expect us to take another step forward and put in a better performance this week than against Darlington – and if we do that we should be good for another win.”
Birmingham Moseley have made a number of influential signings to strengthen their pack this season, including former Wasps back row forward Buster Lawrence, now club captain, and the 6ft 7in South African second row Brendon Snyman, who signed from National League One rivals Coventry.
Hallett rates the Midlands outfit: “It is always a physical game against Moseley. They defend well, like to get off the line and make big shots. They have a lot of guys who are effective in doing that.
“We will do what we try to do every week which is to play high tempo and put them under pressure, picking off the opportunities when they present themselves.”
Despite last week’s physical battle, the team emerged virtually unscathed and injury-free. Hallett explains: “I think injury-wise we are OK. The guys who missed last week’s are not back fit but even if they were I am not sure we would be making too many changes.”
Hallett was full of praise for captain Dan Williams who made his first start of the season in the number eight shirt.
“He has been itching to get back and has worked his socks off to be in this position. It is frustrating when you are in and around the squad but not really part of it but he is such an influential player and such a character in the changing room that I had no qualms picking him as captain. He did it for us last year and did very well. He is one of those guys who, whether captain or not, will always lead from the front.”
In the backs, centre Seta Raumakita, named one of National One’s try scorers of the week by England Rugby, is away on Royal Navy rugby duty and replaced by Dean Squires. Hallett adds: “Seta played very well but he has a game on Wednesday, so we have to be careful how we load him over the next couple of weeks.”
Plymouth Albion team to face Birmingham Moseley at Billesley Common on Saturday, February 24, KO 3pm.
15 Matthew Shepherd, 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 Ed Holmes, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 George Mills, 7 Sam Daly, 8 Dan Williams (Captain).
16 Dan Pullinger, 17 Luke Chapman, 18 Dan Swain, 19 Cam Setter, 20 Jordan Gott.