Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Dawe excited by Plymouth Albion’s first trip to Darlington Mowden Park

Plymouth Albion

Graham DawePLYMOUTH Albion boss Graham Dawe says it is ‘an exciting prospect’ going to in-form Darlington Mowden Park on Saturday.

This weekend could be a crucial one in National One with the top eight sides all playing each other.

Albion and Darlington have been the form teams over the last three months.

Both clubs have only lost once since November.

Albion sit fifth in the table, with Darlington in seventh, just four points behind.

The teams are so close at the top of National One that this weekend Dawe’s side could move up to third or drop down to seventh.

“It’s an exciting prospect going up to Darlington – a place where we haven’t been before – and against a pretty in-form team,” said Dawe. “We are looking forward to the challenge.”

Dawe, though, does not look at this weekend as any more important than any other.

“We look at every game that comes along as vital,” said Dawe. “The biggest game of the season is always the next one.”

Albion lost 25-15 at home to Darlington Mowden Park in horrible weather back in November.

That proved to be a springboard for ambitious Mowden Park, who recruited heavily during the summer, to go on and win 12 games in a row.

It was a game Albion felt they should have won. The match was level at 15-15 with 11 minutes to go but referee Veryam Boscawn awarded Darlington a penalty try before then awarding them a late penalty to even deny Plymouth a bonus point.

“I thought we played some pretty good football against them,” said Albion boss Dawe, when asked about the meeting at Brickfields. “We certainly controlled possession and field position first half, but succumbed to a breakaway try on a turnover and then we ended up chasing the game.”

Albion go into the match boosted by the availability of second-rows Dan Collier and Ed Holmes.

Holmes had missed Plymouth’s last match against Henley Hawks with an ankle injury but he is fit to play this weekend.

Collier, meanwhile, took a knocked to the head against Henley but has been passed fit to play.

“It is great news that Dan has come through the last week and is back in the firing line,” said Dawe. “While Ed Holmes is able to return to the squad after missing the last game.”

Holmes’ return means Nile Dacres switches back to flanker, with Andy Chesters dropping to the bench.

The other change in the pack comes in the front-row where England Counties prop Christian Judge replaces Dan Pullinger, who will start on the bench.

“It was a really hard decision to leave Dan on the bench and bring in Christian,” said Dawe. “Dan has done the team proud in the last couple of games, but on this occasion there is a ‘but’ and Christian just wins the nod.”

Fit-again hooker James Penman also has to make do with a place on the bench, but both he and Pullinger could be crucial replacements.

The one change in the backs sees Tom Bedford come in at inside centre for the suspended Marc Koteczky.

Bedford had been on the bench for the last two matches against struggling Henley and Cinderford but had started all Albion’s other league matches.

He began the season at inside centre but has played quite a bit of the wing in the second half of the campaign.

“It’s a good opportunity for Tom to run out in the 12 shirt, which has been worn by Marc over the last few months,” said Dawe.

“Tom is a class footballer and makes some very good decisions both on and off the ball. It is really pleasing that we have him available to come in and play there.

“He has been ever-present in our matchday squad, starting nearly every match, and has been a very important member of the squad. We’re really looking forward to him enjoying his game at inside centre.”

Darlington signed five Albion players in the summer – Pete Homan, Jake Henry, Tom Jubb, Alistair Bone and Tom Harrison.

However, all are doubtful to feature this weekend’s match. Homan, Henry, Jubb and Bone have all been injured and did not play in their win over Blackheath last weekend.


15 Matt Shepherd

14 Ethan Ford

13 Jake Murphy (capt)

12 Tom Bedford

11 Robin Wedlake

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

Reps: James Penman, Dan Pullinger, Andy Chesters, Harrison Cully, Seti Raumakita

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