Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Albion sweating on the fitness of captain Murphy for Loughborough match

Jake MurphyPLYMOUTH Albion are sweating on the fitness of captain Jake Murphy for Saturday’s home match against Loughborough Students (3pm).

The Cornwall centre, who has started every game this season, has been struggling with an ankle injury this week and will have a late fitness test.

If he does come through okay then Albion will name the same starting XV that lined up against Wharfedale last weekend.

However, if he fails to recover then Plymouth will have to tinker with their backline as fellow centre Marc Koteczky is still ruled out with a back injury.

Robin Wedlake, Ethan Ford, Harrison Cully, Cameron Setter or Elliot Bale would all be options to play centre if Murphy fails to recover.

Albion, still missing top scorer Tom Putt, are boosted by the return of lock Ed Holmes, who was unavailable for last week’s trip to North Yorkshire. Holmes, though, is likely to have to make do with starting on the bench against Loughborough, with director of rugby Graham Dawe rewarding the players that dug out a hard-fought 12-9 victory in horrible conditions at Wharfedale.

“You’ve got to respect the lads that ground out that victory and put in a good performance at Wharfedale,” said Dawe.

The Albion boss will come up against another ex-England hooker on Saturday, with former Leicester Tigers and Saracens player George Chuter on the coaching staff of Loughborough.

Dawe expects Loughborough to pose a real threat to his side this weekend.

The students have been in good form this last month, beating Rossyln Park 32-10 and Wharfedale 30-8, while pushing the top two Hartpury College (13-8) and Richmond (31-17) hard in defeats.

“They have certainly got some good rugby players and the ability to put together a big performance and get a result,” said Dawe.

Albion, though, go into the match on the back of wins over Wharfedale and Ampthill.

However, Dawe said: “Anyone who has played top level sport knows how difficult it is to back up one good performance with another.

“It is all about concentrating on our performance and trying to start the game well. We need to make sure we get the nuts and bolts right.”

Albion will not be at home again after this weekend until January 9, with away games at Hartpury and Rossyln Park before and after Christmas.

“The guys do love playing at home,” said Dawe. “We have got hard back-to-back away games after this weekend but we are not looking at that yet as a squad, we are just looking at Loughborough as a massive challenge.”

Albion are hoping for a decent-sized crowd this weekend, with it being their final fixture before Christmas.

Hooker James Penman is certainly keeping his fingers crossed they do get a good turnout on Saturday.

JamesPenman“Definitely,” he said. “It’s exciting when the crowd’s huge.

“There’s always a buzz for home games.

“We just want to try and repay our loyal supporters with a win. There’s a good bunch that come and watch us every week, whether we are nine hours away in the Yorkshire Dales or here at home.”

Penman felt Albion showed a lot of character last weekend to dig out a victory with a late try at rain-soaked Wharfedale.

“There was talk of the game being called off before we went out there, but we just wanted to get out there and get the job done and that’s what happened,” said Penman.

“The team showed really good character to grind it out. There was definitely belief in the team all the way through that we were going to pull through. It was a credit to everyone involved.

“What we always talk about is trying to back up our wins and not being a week-on, week-off team. We want to continue to climb up the ladder and continue progressing as a team and to do that we need to back up those away wins with home victories.”


15 Ethan Ford

14 Robin Wedlake

13 Jake Murphy (capt)

12 Tom Bedford

11 Harrison Cully

10 Billy Searle

9 Matt Shepherd

1 Ollie Dawe

2 James Penman

3 Christian Judge

4 Dan Collier

5 Nile Dacres

6 Jarrad Hayler

7 Sam Matavesi

8 Herbie Stupple

Reps (from): Rupert Freestone, Dan Pullinger, Gregory Sebastien, Ed Holmes, Seti Raumakita, Cameron Setter, Elliot Bale.

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