Plymouth Albion play host to Darlington Mowden Park at Brickfields for their National League One game today (Saturday, February 17, KO 3pm).
The County Durham club are currently second in the league – two places ahead of their hosts.
Albion will be looking to bounce back from last week’s disappointing loss away to Old Elthamians 16-12.
Hooker Jamie Salter, who starts this week, says the score was not a fair reflection of the Devon club’s performance.
“We had most of the possession and territory and at the end we kept the ball for a crazy amount of phases, but they seemed to be able to score more easily than us. They didn’t have to work very hard for their points, particularly in the first half when we gave away silly penalties.
“The performance overall wasn’t too bad. It was one of those games you can’t really believe you have lost.”
In the end it was the set piece – usually such a strength– that let Albion down.
Salter, 32, explains: ”We aren’t the biggest of packs but we do have an effective set piece and have proved that over the last two seasons. Because we are slightly more lightweight than other teams, if we are not fully working as an eight then we do get found out.
“In the last few weeks set piece has rocked a little but hopefully on Saturday against a good Darlington pack we will get it back on track.”
Uncharacteristically, Albion failed to capitalise on three successive five-metre lineouts last week, wasting valuable scoring opportunities.
“We got pulled up for an offside last play of the game and I think we were done for that earlier. If we know the referee is looking at that we need to be smarter but I think most of the line outs driven in that game were probably the same offence. It’s tough but we shouldn’t be doing that close to the line. We have got to be more clinical.”
Injuries have forced a few last minute changes among the Albion forwards this week, with back row comrades Herbie Stupple and Eoghan Grace ruled out.
Salter is not concerned: “Sean Lonsdale, who has made a big impact this season, is back, as is George Mills, a solid player who works hard, so I am not too worried.
“It is also good to see Dan Williams back.”
“We have strength in depth in the pack and whichever eight we put out we will be strong. There will be slightly different dynamics but I have no issues whichever eight play.”
When the two sides met earlier this season at the Northern Echo Arena, Albion were unlucky to lose the game in the last play, 33-31.
Head of PE at Newton Abbot College, Salter says the team will be keen to reverse their fortunes on Saturday: “It was disappointing early in the season when we were getting those draws and losses by a couple of points. We have that home record and we want to keep going forwards. At the top of our game we should come away with a win but it is important that everything is firing on Saturday.
“They are a solid outfit with a strong pack and big, powerful running backs but nothing we can’t deal with. They are good at retaining the ball but with our defensive system it shouldn’t cause too many issues. If we have the amount of ball we had on Saturday with slightly better conditions it is just a matter of converting the points.”
Salter says his team mates will be hoping for some strong support for their biggest home fixture so far this season.
“Our home and away support is the best in the league. It is good playing at home as it lifts the boys and really does help.”
Plymouth Albion team to face Darlington Mowden Park at Brickfields on Saturday, February 17 (KO 3pm).
15 Matthew Shepherd, 14 Matt Crosscombe, 13 Setareki Raumakita, 12 Tom Hendrickson, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 Luke Chapman, 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 Rupert Freestone, 18 Dan Swain, 19 Jordan Gott, 20 Joe Snow