Preview & squad for Plymouth (A) 21.2.1520/02/2015
Jersey head to Devon this weekend seeking to build on recent good form. The Islanders are unbeaten in four league matches, but know they will have a tough match at Brickfields against Plymouth Albion.
Albion may be propping up the Greene King IPA Championship, but their form is also improved as they battle to escape the drop-zone; a 12-all draw against third-placed London Scottish last weekend showing their fighting spirit, a quality also in evidence off the field as the club succeeded in avoiding administration.
James Shanahan's side also won the last match between the sides, a 14-23 success at St Peter in the B&I Cup at the end of November. Earlier in the season Jersey won 19-0 at home in the league and 16-22 in the Cup at Brickfields. [as ever, match reports available by clicking on the scorelines]
Plymouth has been a happy hunting ground for the visitors from the Channel Island, who have a 'three-from-three' record at Albion's HQ in Devonport, including their first-ever away win in the Championship - by 15-19 in March 2013 - and another narrow triumph 12 months later by 23-30.
Albion have had more joy against Jersey away from their home city: they lost on their first visit to St Peter by 16-14 in November 2012, but since then won 41-27 in the curtain-raising '23rd match' at Sandy Park in Exeter last season and 18-23 on the Island a few weeks later, as well as their recent B&I victory.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon has shuffled his pack - as well as his back-line - for the trip. Ignacio Lancuba (pictured above) is selected at loose-head - strong impact from the bench in Saturday's 17-3 win over Bedford has earned the Argentine his first Championship start since Jersey travelled to Worcester in November.
Another replacement last weekend, Michael Noone, is selected to start the match ahead of Paula Kaho at number 8.
In the backs, Biljon is without new signing Fautua Otto, who took a knock to the head against Bedford and is unavailable due to the concussion protocols covering professional rugby union. The Jersey squad sees a reversion to a previous incarnation with Mark McCrea on the wing, Lewis Robling at centre and Jonny Bentley back at fly-half.
Jersey's bench includes a five:two split of forwards and backs, with two players returning to the squad - lock Dave Markham and centre David Bishop.
The match will be the last for Jersey prior to a weekend off, after which the Islanders face a challenging series of matches in March - home to London Scottish and Worcester and then away to Yorkshire Carnegie.
A video link outlining Jersey's squad can be accessed HERE
Jersey squad v Plymouth Albion 'A' - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday February 21st, Brickfields - k-o 3pm
Alex Rae (capt)
Albion team news - HERE
Plymouth Albion: a potted history
Back in the day: in the early 20th Century Albion played at Home Park, where Plymouth Argyle Football Club now play. In 1925 they moved to Beacon Park, their home until the move to the current ground, Brickfields, in 2003.
Famous sons: two internationals became Player-Coaches of the club - the Cornishman Graham Dawe and his successor, the Fijian Nat Saumi. The latter announced he was stepping down following the home defeat by Jersey in March 2013, while Dawe (pictured below) has recently returned as Director of Rugby to work with Head Coach Shanahan.
Jersey connections: Islander Ross Allan, who has been
playing for Jersey Athletic this season, played for Albion from
2007-09. This season, the Devon side signed former Jersey duo Tom
Fidler and Jimmy Williams, the latter in a short-term deal prior to
his going travelling.
League history: Started at level three, then known as Courage League Three, in 1987/88. Promoted in 1988/89 but relegated after two seasons and didn't return to the second tier until 2003. They are the second longest-standing tenants at this level, after Bedford, and in the last three seasons have finished 11th, ninth and eighth in the table.
The Greene King IPA Championship this weekend
The first action of the weekend - Friday's only game - sees Nottingham, currently occupying the fourth and final play-off spot, host a Cornish Pirates side who performed badly on home soil last time out.
The Pirates' conquerors, Doncaster, are at home to Bristol on Saturday, while the other team most concerned by the Albion revival, Moseley, face London Scottish at the RAG. Bedford have a tough task at home to leaders Worcester as they seek to recover from defeat in Jersey. And Rotherham are at home to their county rivals Yorkshire Carnegie - the derby match counts towards the tri-partite Yorkshire Regiment Trophy, although Carnegie have already been ruled out of contention for local bragging rights after three straight defeats.
See HERE for the full preview to round 16
The name Harry Westlake may not ring a bell, but most rugby fans will probably recognise this face.
Six-year-old Harry stole the show at Twickenham with a
passionate rendition of God Save the Queen prior to the England v
Italy match, since when he has gone well and truly viral.
Since being broken by his local paper The Plymouth Herald, the story of the youngster who plays for Devonport Services Under 7s and whose grandson Ray captained Albion back in the day, has featured in media for and wide. If England were playing again this weekend he'd probably be enlisted for more national service, but a break in the 6 Nations means he's back home in Plymouth, and has been asked to lead out the team ahead of the match with Jersey.
Talking of the 6 Nations, there are a couple of diary dates, one involving the 6N, for Jersey supporters ahead of the next 1st XV home game against London Scottish on March 7th:
- Sunday March 1st - 6 Nations at JRFC. The crucial Ireland v England game (k-o 3pm) will be shown in the club's new marquee. Food will be available and the bar will be open, and there are also live matches at 12noon. Details to follow
- Tuesday March 3rd - evening Q&A with Harvey Biljon and coaching team. Harvey will be talking supporters through the club's recent matches and looking forward to the final two months of the season. For anyone who's not been to one of these sessions, Harvey talks openly and honestly about his approach, sharing insights and clips from our video analyst. Food will be available. Full details to follow.
Finally finally, Jersey Athletic have a home game this Saturday
against Barnes, the Zoo Shield match kicking off at 12noon and
being followed by lunch in the Clubhouse.
Enjoy your weekend's rugby!