1st XV Match Preview V Plymouth Albion (H) Sat 24/02/2018 

By Glyn Barlow

This weekend we welcome old friends Plymouth Albion to Billesley Common for our second home game in a row, due to the fixture being postponed from its original December date falling foul of the weather.

This season Albion are currently sitting in fourth place just four points behind Tonga, sorry Ampthill, so they will certainly be targeting this game as a chance to enter the top three.

In preparation for the season Albion brought in a number of new (and not so new) faces including wing Jack Arnott and prop Luke Chapman from Cornish Pirates, prop Ricky Cano from Rotherham, fly half Dan Mugford from Nottingham and back row Eoghan Grace from Coventry.

The signing of Mugford has proved to be an astute one as he currently tops the team in terms of points scored (168, fourth highest in the league) and tries alongside hooker Rupert Freestone who also has eight.

As well as an ability to score points Albion have demonstrated a mean nature, letting in only 40 tries all season. Indeed they have conceded the second lowest number of points in the league to date. Birmingham Moseley will need to be at their best in attack if they are going to crack this defence.

In recent weeks Plymouth have chalked up wins against second place Darlington Mowden Park 34-19, Caldy 21-16, Fylde 0-26 and Esher 29-33. On the debit side however they will be disappointed to have conceded losses to Old Elthamians 16-12 and Cambridge 16-14.

The Darlington Mowden Park result last weekend will have been particularly pleasing as wins on the road have not been too prevalent recently with their only previous one in 2018 being when they beat Fylde.

Birmingham Moseley have the chance to make it three in a row following a 36-21 win over Fylde. The team showed great resolve to succeed, having played most of the game with fourteen men.

Apart from Jacques Le Roux’s excellent hat trick of tries highlights included the control Sam Brown and Sam Hollingsworth gave at half back, a dominant scrum and lineout performance with the dynamic Adam Caves to the fore, plus an excellent shift from Ollie Allsopp covering for his missing centre partner for so long.

If the team are to prevail over the men from Devon then more, much more, of the spirit of last Saturday needs to be found, while control and discipline needs to return.

With Old Elthamians within striking distance and Bishop’s Stortford and Caldy breathing down their necks there won’t be a better time to deliver an eighty minute performance of the type glimpsed in patches this season. Now is the time to push onwards and upwards.