Plymouth Albion / Rugby

French flanker Sebastien to make his Plymouth Albion debut at Coventry

Gregory Sebastien

GREGORY Sebastien will make his Plymouth Albion debut on Saturday when they make their first trip to Coventry for six years (3pm).

The 22-year-old Frenchman takes over the number seven shirt from Jarrad Hayler, who is away with the Royal Navy rugby squad.

“Greg has been on a steep learning curve over the last two weeks,” said Albion’s director of rugby Graham Dawe.

“It was very competitive on who would fill Jarrad Hayler’s shirt, but Greg got there by the skin of his teeth. His line-out ability tipped the balance.

“But we fully back him and this is a good opportunity for him to establish himself and bring some French emotion to the Plymouth Albion squad.”

Sebastien for Hayler is the only change Albion make to their starting XV from last week’s 31-24 win over Fylde.

Hooker James Penman has recovered from a head/neck injury which has kept him out of the last two games, but only starts on the bench after a good performance last week by Rupert Freestone.

“James is a strong player and he adds a lot,” said Dawe. “His experience, contact skills and scrummaging are all top drawer and he’s certainly a good man to have on the bench if needed.”

Coventry, with former Birmingham and Worcester boss Phil Maynard as their director of rugby, finished third last season and, along with Rosslyn Park, were one of the pre-season favourites in National One.

However, after making a great start scoring more than 40 points against both Wharfedale and Loughorough Students, they have surprisingly lost their last two matches, going down 31-7 at Richmond last week and 23-21 at home to Hartpury College the previous Saturday.

Dawe knows Coventry will be determined to try and get back to winning ways this weekend in front of their own fans.

“They will certainly be hurting after their last result,” said Dawe.

“I would imagine there has been a few strong words spoken this week in their changing room and so it will be a good challenge for us.

“Hopefully, we can go toe-to-toe with them and take them on.

“We are just looking to go up there and try and impose ourselves on them. We’ve got to set our stall out, we can’t sit back – we have to take the game to them. We will have to score tries to try and win the game.”

Dawe, who once again names four teenagers in his match-day squad, added: “Playing Coventry is always a tasty affair.

“I have been there with three clubs and lost with three clubs, but when you do win there it is sweet.

“They have rugby in their blood. They are very passionate about rugby and expect their forwards to front up.

“We are going to come under pressure but we are comfortable coming under pressure. However, there’s a few things we have tried to tidy up this week in training after last week’s game.”

Albion have not won away from home since March 2014, but Dawe believes the pressure will be on Coventry after their last two results and the fact they are at home.

“For sure, there will be a lot of pressure on them,” said Dawe. “But they probably expect that pressure to turn into a win for them.

“We have to make sure we can match their expectations. We certainly expect to perform.”

Albion last visited Butts Park in October 2009 when they lost 26-10 having had Sean-Michael Stephen and Darren Clayton sin-binned.

Coventry were controversially relegated that season via the relegation play-offs, with Birmingham-Solihull staying up despite not winning one regular league match and finishing on minus points.

Albion’s last win at Butts Park came in December 2008 when they triumphed 7-6 in a game played in horrible conditions. Prop Ryan Hopkins scored the only try of the game, with Dawe coming on for the final few minutes to help see his team to victory.


15 Tom Putt

14 Ethan Ford

13 Jake Murphy (capt)

12 Tom Bedford

11 Matt Shepherd

10 Marc Koteczky

9 Cameron Setter

1 Ollie Dawe

2 Rupert Freestone

3 Christian Judge

4 Dan Collier

5 Ed Holmes

6 Nile Dacres

7 Gregory Sebastien

8 Herbie Stupple

Replacements: James Penman, Dan Pullinger, Andy Chesters, Elliot Bale, Billy Searle.

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