MATT SHEPHERD said Plymouth Albion’s stunning performance against Hartpury College on Saturday was for Graham Dawe, the club’s backroom staff and their supporters.
At the start of the week when the players found out that the new owners had surprisingly asked coach Dawe to step down after an impressive season, some were unsure if they even felt like playing against Hartpury.
But they all decided the best thing they could do was to try and put on a show in the club’s final home match of the 2015/16 season.
And they did just that, outscoring second-placed Hartpury five tries to three to win 35-26 and become the first team to beat them twice this campaign.
“It was massive win, considering the week we’ve had and everything we have been fighting against,” said Shepherd, who scored two tries and kicked five out of five conversions. “There’s been a lot of emotions in our heads trying to deal with things.
“But on Saturday we just set out to empty ourselves, be the team we know we can be and we really put on a show.
“We knew they (Hartpury) had never been beaten twice by the same team in the league, so to do that and come from 12 points down showed our character and the mental edge that we have.
“It was such a positive showing. This group of players once again showed the will we have to work for each other.”
The players supported Dawe by warming up in special T-shirts with his name on and also ‘retiring’ the number two shirt for the day.
When asked if the players felt they owed Dawe that performance, Shepherd said: “I think at the back of our minds we definitely did as he has done so much for us.
“At the end of the day we wanted it for the whole team – Graham, Jan (Simon Hicklin) and all the backroom staff. We did it for them.
“But we also wanted to show the supporters what this team is about. We wanted to show that we aren’t just any old mugs – we are a team and we want to go forward as a team.
“We just need to go to Richmond next week and put on another show there.”