Report by Rob Kershaw
Exeter University V Plymouth Albion
K/O 1500 – TOPSHAM FIELD, EX3 0LY
Following a fantastic afternoon of Rugby between the Armed Forces and the Welsh Charity Vets, and the first pre-season game against Okehampton, it is time for the Brickfields pitch to be given a bit of a rest.
Plenty of studs have trampled over the green pitch in the Ocean City in recent weeks, but the pitch at home is getting ever greener ahead of another busy season in National League One.
This weekend, Exeter University will be the hosts on a summer afternoon at the university campus, and the hosts on buoyed after a tremendous campaign last season.
The BUCS side topped the South-West Premier last term to go up into the National League Two West, one tier below Albion.
There will be two less teams in the Uni’s now former league this campaign after both themselves and Old Redcliffians got promoted to League Two, so 12 teams will contest in the Regional 1 West in 2022-23.
Exeter won all 13 of their home games last season, succumbing to just three defeats away from home over the course of the season, pressing home a fantastic advantage in a solid campaign of Rugby.
A visit to our fellow Devonians is never an easy task, and this is something Damian Welch and his men will be very wary of as they look to get more players involved in the swing of match practice.
It was a tremendous performance from the inexperienced group of players that were fielded against Okehampton, with a group of lads that had played together only twice before.
The visitors could certainly pat themselves on the back too following a brave display from a group of hungry players, who showed signs that they can climb up into the mid table in the Regional 1 South West.
The Okes pushed the Albion boys hard in the opening 40 minutes, going in ahead at half time, but the fantastic resolve of the young side came through as Albion kicked off pre-season with a win.
This will be Exeter’s third game of pre-season after they took victories against both Guernsey and Taunton, who Albion will visit in the second game of the season on 10 September.
For Albion, this will be their first time fielding an XV relatively close to what they will have at the start of the season, but Welch indicated after the game on Wednesday night that there might be another mix.
A lot of the less experienced players thoroughly impressed the boss during the mighty push from Okehampton, so Saturday afternoon will be an opportunity for more of the young bucks to prove that they warrant a closer look as the season goes on.
The two sides faced off last summer at Brickfields as the University side scored a convincing 41-21 win – a record Albion would like to set straight this weekend!
There are two realistic ways of getting down from Plymouth – the first of which is to drive for just over an hour up the A38, the other is to get the train.
There will be a direct service from Plymouth to Exeter St Davids, followed by a 10-minute walk to get to the Topsham pitch.
Temperatures of 29 Degrees Celsius are forecast for Saturday afternoon in Exeter, with a small bit of cloud cover also anticipated, so do be sure to being plenty of water if you are heading up!