Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Thompson handed first start as Albion make changes for long Blaydon trip

Cameron ThompsonCAMERON THOMPSON will make his first Plymouth Albion start on Saturday when the club travel to Blaydon (2.30pm).

The Plymouth-born 24-year-old (pictured) made his debut last weekend as a half-time replacement against Esher. He will start in the number seven shirt at Blaydon after Andy Chesters, who had been due to play, suffered a knee injury in training on Wednesday night.

Albion, still without Royal Navy flankers Jarrad Hayler and Seti Raumakita, also bring fit-again fly-half Elliot Bale, props Ollie Dawe and Christian Judge and scrum-half Cameron Setter back into their team for the 820-mile round trip.

Setter takes over from Matt Shepherd, who failed a late fitness test on an injured knee.

Bale’s return means Albion shift around their backline. Australian play-maker Marc Koteczky moves from 10 to 12, while Tom Bedford switches to the wing, where Albion are missing the injured Jon Dawe, Robin Wedlake, Harrison Cully and Raumakita, who also plays there as well as flanker.

Thompson comes in for Frenchman Gregory Sebastien, who drops to the bench, as do Rupert Freestone and Dan Pullinger to accommodate the return of Ollie Dawe and Judge.

Albion’s director of rugby Graham Dawe said: “We see Cameron as a like-for-like for Andy Chesters. It’s a good opportunity for Cameron to lay down a marker for that number seven shirt after having 40 minutes last week.”

“Elliot Bale is now back to full fitness so we want to start him, which allows Marc Koteczky to play at centre for this match and move Tom Bedford to the wing, where he has played a lot of rugby over the years.

“Ollie Dawe and Christian Judge started on the bench last weekend to share the workload around, but we bring them back into the starting team for this game.”

Bale will take over the kicking duties in the North East

Teenager Jack Maunder, who has yet to make his Albion debut, has been named on the bench as scrum-half cover, but Shepherd will travel with the team in the hope that his injury might improve.

Blaydon might be bottom of the table after six games but they are the only team this season to have beaten Blackheath and they have pushed leaders Hartpury College and Richmond close in the last two weeks.

They lost 19-10 away at Richmond last weekend and only went down 28-22 to Hartpury College in their last home game.

Albion have not won a league game away since March 2014 and have lost their last two matches, so director of rugby Dawe is not taking anything for granted. He is expected a real battle in the North East.

“We’ve only won one more game than them,” said Dawe.

“Their squad is sprinkled with some very good players. They’ve got a lot of England Counties players and I’m sure they have a good mix in their squad.

“We’ve done a little bit of homework on them and we know we are going to be in for a pretty torrid time up-front, but we’re looking forward to having a crack at that.”

Albion travel to Blaydon, which forms part of the Borough of Gateshead, on the back of their worst performance of the season last week against Esher. Plymouth lost 38-12, which was the first time this season they had not picked up a point.

“As far as last weekend is concerned we have drawn a line in the sand,” said Dawe. “We initially started the game as we wanted to but for whatever reason it never happened for us and it’s something we have to come to terms with.

“We are now just focusing on trying to start this game well, trying to dominate the opposition in the forwards and trying to score some points.”

Albion team to face Blaydon

15 Tom Putt

14 Tom Bedford

13 Jake Murphy (capt)

12 Marc Koteczky

11 Ethan Ford

10 Elliot Bale

9 Cameron Setter

1 Ollie Dawe

2 James Penman

3 Chris Judge

4 Dan Collier

5 Ed Holmes

6 Nile Dacres

7 Cameron Thompson

8 Herbie Stupple

Replacements: 16 Rupert Freestone, 17 Dan Pullinger, 18 Greg Sebastien, 19 Jack Maunder, 20 Billy Searle


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