1stXV v Plymouth Albion v, Sat Mar 10, 15:00, Match Preview
Ampthill welcome Plymouth Albion to Dillingham Parl this Saturday in a 3rd plays 4th showdown. Alibion were formed in 1876 by a group of apprentices from the Royal Naval Dockyard in Devonport and played in Devonport Park. In 1887 the club moved to Bladderly, where spectators paid three times as much (3d) to watch as players to play (1d or a touch less than 1/2p)!
During the 1894 season Plymouth Albion played at Home Park, now the home of Plymouth Argyle, and then moved to Rectory Fields, where they hosted the first touring All Blacks team in 1905.
The Great War intervened with both Albion and local rivals Plymouth RFC losing their grounds to the war effort and many of their players to the conflict leading to a merger 1919 to form Plymouth Albion RFC and a new home at Beacon Park.
The following decades saw Albion achieve much success before being placed in Courage 3 when the league system was introduced in the '80s. However, by the end of the 1998-99 season, the Club's on field fortune had declined, only a last day of the season away win preventing relegation from the National Leagues.
In 1999 Graham Dawe was appointed Chairman of Rugby and oversaw a period of unprecedented success with eventual promotion to National One (now the Championship) in 2001-02, a status retained for 13 seasons until relegation at the end of last year, 2014-15 with Graham Dawe returning as Director of Rugby in 2015. Dan Parkes was appointed head coach in time for last season but resigned and was replaced by the current player/coach Kieran Hallett.
This season Albion have a played 21 won 14 record to lie 4rd in the National 1 table on the same points as Ampthill but with two games in hand. The reverse fixture in November saw the visitors win a kicking battle 16-9 and they shade recent form having won 4 lost 2 of their last 6 while Amps have won 3, drawn 2 and lost 1.
Last weeks Amps fixture against Old Elthamians was a casualty of the snow, it has been re-arranged for Good Friday, March 30th.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery comments "Obviously a massive game with third playing fourth and without a doubt the game of the day in National one.
The guys have had two weeks off, hopefully we are rested, ready to go and full of energy and not rusty.
Plymouth are one of the form sides in the division and sit third on merit and have two games in hand on us so all the pressure is on us and it's a must win game for the maroon & gold.
The two sides had a titanic tussle at Brickfields where Plymouth rightly got a deserved victory. The games between the two sides are always close and I don't expect anything to be different this weekend. I think it will go the full 80 mins before a winner is declared."
There are a few changes to the squad this week:-
Forwards:- Aleki Lutui returns at hooker with Maama Molitka at Number 8
Backs:- Pete Weightman starts at inside centre
Replacements:- Karl Garside returns at prop with Syd Blackmore & Will Alman providing backrow cover and Gaving Williams covering scrum half.
The teams below will be updated as soon as published.