Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Dawe tells his Albion team not to take winning for granted

Graham DaweGRAHAM DAWE has told his Plymouth Albion team not to take winning for granted.

Albion continued their impressive form by beating Esher 30-15 away on Saturday to move up to fourth in National One.

It was the third week running Albion had claimed a bonus point victory and it was also their eighth success in nine matches.

Matt Shepherd scored 20 of their points, with two tries, two conversions and two penalties, while Herbie Stupple and Nile Dacres also crossed the whitewash again for Plymouth.

Stupple and Dacres have both claimed nine tries this season, while Shepherd is just behind with eight.

“I was delighted,” said director of rugby Dawe after the game. “It was an outstanding win away from home, but you can never be comfortable or take winning for granted.”

He added: “Our game-management was very good first half against the wind and with the sun an element as well.

“We built up a bit of a head of steam where we had a bit of possession and looked a very good team.

“We got a cushion, but we were ropey for 15 minutes in the second half where our penalty count went up too quickly, but defensively we were good enough to hold on.”

Claiming the try-scoring bonus point and denying Esher one meant Albion leapfrogged above their hosts.

Dawe’s side have scored 14 tries in their last three matches against Esher, Coventry and Fylde, who are all experienced and well-established sides.

“Getting bonus points is important,” said Dawe, who included three teenagers and a 20-year-old in his starting line-up on Saturday. “Previously we were winning games but not getting bonus points.

“It was a really ambitious attack to get that fourth try, but I guess if you play a bit of poker you get the odd win. It was an outstanding try.”

Dawe was pleased with his side’s defence in Surrey.

“Our alignment was good and our set-up and energy to close space was good,” said Dawe. “I thought we kept our shape and chopped well.

“We didn’t get that many turnovers, but we managed to get a couple of penalties at the tackle area, which is important, but most important is slowing the ball up.”

Albion’s scrum was again outstanding. There was pressure on the Plymouth pack to perform after news came out this week that Dawe had been asked to help the England scrum ahead of their Six Nations match with Scotland.

“Our scrum was competitive,” said Dawe. “We gave away a needless penalty, but it did provide a good platform for Herbie and Cameron Setter to run off and ultimately that is what the scrum should be about.”

Stupple was a thorn in Esher’s side from the back of the scrum. He made one try and scored another from the set piece.

Dawe said: “Herbie when he came into the game he was really, really good.

“He blotted his copy book near the end by losing the ball in contact, but when he gets over the line like he did we’ll accept the odd error.”

Albion suffered a blow the evening before the match when full-back Ethan Ford was forced to pull out with injury.

Ford had started all Albion’s previous 19 matches this season. In his absence, Albion decided to put Shepherd there for the first time and bring 18-year-old Harrison Cully on to the wing.

“We know Matt can play full-back,” said Dawe. “Ethan was not available and Matt is a fine full-back. He has played a lot of rugby there – he’s just a fine rugby player either in the back three or nine and 10. He is a pretty adaptable and versatile character.”

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