PLYMOUTH Albion boss Graham Dawe is confident his team will be able to adapt to playing on an artificial pitch this weekend when they travel to Rosslyn Park in National One.
Albion have never played a league match on an artificial surface before. The club’s only experience of a non-grass surface came in last year’s British & Irish Cup when they lost 59-26 away at Leinster A at Donnybrook.
Rosslyn Park are one of two teams in National One to play on 3G pitches. The other club are Loughborough Students, who Albion will visit in April.
“We’ve got our own artificial training pitch, so we’ll know what to expect with the bounce of the ball,” said Dawe, whose team will also train on the new 3G pitch at the University of St Mark and St John this week.
“It is different to playing on grass. When the ball hits the floor it bounces differently, but it’s great for footwork. However, it’s tough on the body for de-acceleration, particularly on the hamstrings, and occasionally you’ll get a wobblier scrum.”
Albion go into Saturday’s match on the back of four straight wins, including a stunning victory at high-flying Hartpury College in their last outing.
But they will face a tough test against last season’s runners-up Rosslyn Park, who beat them 16-15 at Brickfields in September.
“I’d be happy if we could win at Rosslyn Park,” said Dawe. “But there’s a bit of work to do as they are a pretty effective set piece team, they drive the line-outs a lot, they play power rugby for penalties and they jam in defensively hard, so it will be hard to play our game against them.
“We need to be aware of their game. If we don’t respect what they are about then we’ll come away from London with regrets.”