GRAHAM DAWE is hoping his Plymouth Albion team can handle the pressure they will be under to beat Blaydon at Brickfields on Saturday (3pm).
Albion have won eight of their last nine matches and have picked up a maximum 15 points from their last three fixtures against Esher, Coventry and Fylde.
That run has moved them up to fourth in the National One table and they will be favourites to beat relegation-threatened Blaydon.
The North East side, though, have proved on their day they can match anyone in the league. They have beaten Blackheath, Esher, Rosslyn Park, Fylde and Wharfedale so far this term and also finished within one score of Richmond, Ampthill, Hartpury College, Cinderford and Albion, who narrowly won 38-33 at Crow Trees.
Blaydon, who have played two games less than most of their rivals, scored five tries that day in October against Albion, with their driving maul particularly effective.
Last week, Blaydon narrowly lost 10-3 to league leaders Richmond, so Plymouth boss Dawe expects them to test his side in front of an expectant Brickfields crowd after their recent good run.
Dawe said: “Any team that wins away at Esher is going to encounter pressure in their next home game. That’s just a fact of life.
“But the team have to grow up and deal with the onslaught Blaydon will bring.
“Blaydon will bring efficiency and will certainly challenge our midfield defence. If they win the early collisions they will come around the corner in their droves and keep challenging.
“Their driving game is very good. Their line-out is very efficient and they will certainly ask some questions, but this team want to be asked those questions and they want to be challenged. They want to see what they have got.
“They are riding high at the moment in confidence, which is always nice, but they realise this is a tough league and this is a tough fixture, not just physically but mentally as well.”
Albion stick with the same starting XV that beat Esher at Molesey Road.
However, they will be changes on the bench. Prop Dan Pullinger has recovered from injury and will replace Dean Brooker, while Ethan Ford (pictured) could be added if he passes a late fitness test, while Elliot Bale is trying to shake off injury to keep his place.
A decision on backs Ford and Bale will be made on Saturday. Robin Wedlake and Seti Raumakita stand by if they do not make it.
Raumakita has been released to play if needed by the Royal Navy, but Jarrad Hayler is not available.
Hooker James Penman is still not fit enough to play after injuring his calf in December.
Albion are hoping Plymouth sports fans will make day of it at Brickfields on Saturday. Straight after the National One clash, Albion will be showing the Six Nations match between Scotland and England in their bars. They will have a Happy Hour from the end of their match until half-time in the international fixture.
ALBION TEAM TO FACE BLAYDON
15 Matt Shepherd
14 Tom Bedford
13 Jake Murphy (capt)
12 Marc Koteczky
11 Harrison Cully
10 Billy Searle
9 Cameron Setter
1 Ollie Dawe
2 Rupert Freestone
3 Christian Judge
4 Dan Collier
5 Ed Holmes
6 Nile Dacres
7 Sam Matavesi
8 Herbie Stupple.
Replacements (from): Dan Pullinger, Gregory Sebastien, Andy Chesters, Elliot Bale, Ethan Ford, Seti Raumakita, Robin Wedlake.