Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Plymouth Albion ready for ‘huge’ derby match against Cornish Pirates

derby.jpgJAMES SHANAHAN and Graham Dawe have both described Sunday’s West Country derby match against the Cornish Pirates as ‘huge’ for Plymouth Albion (kick-off 3pm).

Albion head to Mennaye Field bottom of the Championship table, seven points behind Moseley, who claimed two valuable bonus points against Rotherham on Friday night.

It means, with only three games left after this weekend, that Plymouth cannot really afford to return over the Tamar empty handed.

“It could be a huge game in the shaping of the club,” admitted Albion director of rugby Graham Dawe.

Head coach Shanahan, a former Pirates player, added: “The Pirates game is huge every year because it is a local derby.

“We know where we are in the league but I and the players know we can go to the Mennaye and get a result.”

Albion have not managed to get a result over the Pirates since April 2010 when the teams met in the Championship promotion play-offs. It is even longer since they last won in Cornwall, but there have been some close games.

“There have been some classic matches over the years and some heart-breaking one,” said Dawe. “Any fixture played between Plymouth and Penzance gets the juices flowing.”

Albion have failed to claim a league match away from home this season, however, the Pirates have proved unpredictable on their own patch.

They have lost five of their nine home games to date, including their last two. Yorkshire Carnegie, London Scottish, Nottingham, Doncaster and Rotherham have all won this season in Cornwall.

However, among the Pirates’ four home victories this term are a 45-38 win over Bristol and a 65-14 hammering against Bedford.

Albion will be looking to start Sunday’s match better than they did last week against Yorkshire Carnegie and make sure their line-out functions better.

“We’ve worked this week on all aspects of our game,” said Dawe.

“The set piece is a big part of the game and we need that to function as much as everything else.”

Albion include two former Pirates in their starting line-up – Neale Patrick and Tom Cowan-Dickie – while the home side will have three ex-Albion players in their team – Kieran Hallett, Tom Kessell and Alan Paver.


2001March 24, 2001 – Pirates 13 Albion 36

Albion travelled to Cornwall knowing they had to beat second-placed Penzance to win the National Three South title. The Pirates had not lost at home all season, but Plymouth, inspired by player-coach Dawe, really turned on the style to out-score the home side five tries to two and claim promotion.

Two of Albion’s tries came in the first 16 minutes and that set them on the way. Richard Thompson (2), Danny Thomas, Andy Matchett and Tom Barlow all touched down for the visitors, with Barlow kicking four conversions and a penalty.

Thomas’ try under the posts, created by Dawe, was probably the most memorable of an afternoon Albion fans will long remember.

IMG_1803March 27, 2004 – Pirates 21 Albion 26

TITLE-chasing Albion won a dramatic match thanks to a last-gasp try by replacement debutant Bryan Shelbourne.

Fourth-placed Pirates had dominated the first half, but good defending by Albion meant they only went in at the break 14-7 down. Lodewijk Hattingh and Rhodri McAtee scored first half tries for the home team, with Dan Ward-Smith replying for Albion.

But after the interval Albion stepped up a gear. They levelled thanks to a try by Alfie Tooala, but Pirates went back in front with a touch-down by Rob Thirlby.

Albion brought on Shelbourne, Jon Fabian and Brett Luxton as replacements and they had a major say in the game.

Fabian levelled the match with a converted try under posts four minutes after coming on. Just when the game looked like it was heading for a draw, Albion got a five-metre scrum and from it Shelbourne sneaked over for the winning try.

IMG_1798December 14 2003 – Pirates 3 Albion 48

Albion claimed a new club record away win with a seven-try display at Mennaye Field.

Three of those tries came from winger Lee Robinson, who had an afternoon to remember. Also crossing the whitewash was captain Danny Thomas, Chris Lowrie and Nigel Simpson, with Tom Barlow adding three penalties and two conversions.

James Shanahan scored the Pirates’ only points of the afternoon.

However, the game will probably be more remembered for an incident right at the end that saw Albion lock Andy Perry red-carded by international referee Tony Spreadbury.

Richard Carroll, who had got more and more frustrated as the game went on, tackled Perry and then threw a punch at him as the pair got up. Yet just as Spreadbury was pulling out his yellow card to show to the Pirates man, former Royal Marine Perry retaliated by head-butting Carroll. Perry was shown red, while Carroll still got his yellow card.

IMG_1802April 6, 2008 – Pirates 17 Albion 17

Albion may not have got a win in this match at Camborne but it was certainly a memorable clash.

The Pirates were looking for a top-four finish in the table and were favourites going into the match.

To add spice to the fixture, the Pirates announced in the build-up to the game that they had agreed to sign forwards Ben Gulliver and Jannie Bornman from Albion.

It proved a premature announcement in terms of Bornman, who was not able to complete his move due to red tape.

However, it appeared to motivate Albion, who dominated for much of the contest. Yet with 80 minutes on the clock the match was tied, with Rhodri McAtee scoring two tries for the Pirates and Gareth Steenson kicking a penalty and two conversions and a Bornman try and four Ross Laidlaw penalties accounting for Albion’s points.

Both sides went looking for a winner and in the eighth-minute of injury-time referee Rowan Kitt awarded the Pirates a controversial penalty. The crowd went silent but much to Albion’s relief Steenson’s kick missed.

IMG_1797April 15, 2007 – Pirates 29 Albion 28

THERE might have been a painful outcome for Albion, but this clash in Truro produced one of the most exciting finishes to any derby match.

A nip-and-tuck affair saw the Pirates go 12-0 up only for Albion to respond and go 14-12 in front thanks to tries by Martin Rice and Ed Barnes.

A Pirates penalty put them 15-14 up before Regardt van Eyk made it 21-15 with a third try for the visitors.

Rhodri McAtee hit back with a converted try to make it 22-21, but Albion looked to have won the game deep in injury-time when Luke Arscott scored a converted try.

Plymouth expected the whistle for full-time to be blow, but it wasn’t and the Pirates scored with the last play of the game in the right corner coutesy of Kevin James.

James had to convert from the touchline to claim the win, which he managed to do.

It was heart-breaking for Albion but a game that long lives in the memory.



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