Report by Chris Bentley
A resurgent Plymouth Albion have a lip-watering clash this weekend as 7th-placed Bishop’s Stortford come to town. Just 3 points behind Albion in the league, they have a very similar record in National One and will look to repeat their 31-19 victory from earlier in the season. Albion, on the other hand, are unbeaten at home in 7 games and have won their last 4, so something has to give…
Based north of London, the Hertfordshire outfit are renowned for their huge community section and boast 28 teams from under 6’s right through to very social Abbots XV. The top of a big rugby pyramid, their 1st XV play a very exciting brand of attacking rugby and scored some long-range tries in the reverse fixture.
They also make a game of every match they play, with 7 losing bonus points coming from their 9 losses this term, they certainly stay in the fight too! With Albion Alumni Dan Powell in their squad, they will have decent knowledge of the challenge Brickfields presents and will certainly provide stern opposition.
Albion on the other hand are now able to boast three teams with a newly forged mini section starting this term and a return of an Albion XV on Wednesday showing green shoots as the club continues to progress its PROJECT 150 plan.
On the playing front, the faithful will be pleased to see the return of talismanic captain Herbie Stupple to the back of the scrum. He re-joins the starting XV with the Swiss-Samoan lynchpin that is Jeremy To’a. To be able to undertake a 680-mile round trip without the pair shows just how far the team have progressed this term under Ryan Lamb and Aaron Jarvis guidance.
Beyond the returning duo, the team is very much ‘as you were’ from the bonus point win at Hull. Fresh from his ‘man of the match’ performance, the lump of Cornish Granite Jess Tompsett starts at 3, Harry Wilkinson hooks and Georgain Bull Ramaz Rukhadze completes a powerful looking front row.
Dan Collier and Jake Clemson bring science and brute force to the second row while Stupple joins the Bude bulldozer, Angus Hodges and George Mills in an industrious backrow.
After a sterling run as captain last weekend, Jack Oulton teams up again with the wizard Phil Jones. Their partnership over the last few weeks has been a revelation with Jones showing some of the flair that gained him national honours in the Welsh 7’s set-up and Oulton driving on the Albion 8 who are really starting to show some teeth!
Seta Raumakita and Kyle Speare take up the wing spots and will be expecting to carry on their free-scoring form, while Connor Eastgate partners the aforementioned To’a in the midfield. Holding it all together at the back, ‘the slot machine’ Tom Putt will provide high percentage returns from the tee alongside impetus from broken field.
With 4th placed Rosslyn Park away at promotion-chasing Cambridge, a win this weekend would allow Albion to continue to push up the table and the Brickfields faithful will be expected to add the 16th man advantage for this huge test.
Albion V Bishop’s Stortford
Saturday 25th Feb, 3 PM K/O