Plymouth Albion coach Nat Saumi hopes players take heart from strong finish at Nottingham
PLYMOUTH Albion coach Nat Saumi hopes his team can take their strong finish at Nottingham yesterday into this weekend's vital match with fellow strugglers Jersey.
Albion were out-played by third-placed Nottingham for much of yesterday's game, but Saumi's side finished in style by scoring two injury-time tries.
Although it was not enough to secure Albion any points, Saumi believes the way his team finished at Meadow Lane was important for morale.
"You have to thank the guys for their character," he said. "They played to the final whistle and scored those two tries. That was good for the boys.
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"Finishing well and on a high in the last five minutes is good. They can take that into next week.
"All the players and the coaching staff know how important the game with Jersey is. It is a game we have to win and we just have to look forward to it."
Although pleased with the way his team finished at Meadow Lane, Saumi was not quite so happy with how they started the first half.
They conceded two tries in the opening 15 minutes and Albion were fortunate Nottingham fly-half James Alridge missed three kicks at goal during that period.
"Nottingham are a very good team and for me they should be second in the league," said Saumi.
"They defend well, they are well-structured and they have been playing with each other for a while, but you can't fault our boys for the effort they put in.
"In the beginning of the game there were lots of turnovers and we gave away so many cheap penalties, and that added up to where we finished.
"But Nottingham did very well and that's why they are up with the top teams."
Saumi added: "At the start we did not have runners running off Paul Roberts at 10 from set-pieces and we tended to kick the ball away and they (Nottingham) were ready for us and pounced on it.
"Every time we kicked the ball away from set-pieces they scored tries.
"The message was relayed that we needed to keep the ball for at least three of four phases until there was space behind to kick and slowly we did that.
"Towards the end of the second half we started doing it.
"When you get turnover ball you have to keep it and use it, and when we did that it ended up with Tom Bowen scoring a length-of-the-field try."
Yesterday's defeat was Albion's eighth successive in the league, which equals the club record.
Albion, who have just five matches left this season, last won in the Championship on November 9 when they beat London Scottish 24-20 at Brickfields.
On the club's losing run, Saumi said: "That's the way the game goes. I look at the boys in the changing rooms and we have a lot of young boys who have gained confidence this season.
"Some of the games we have lost have been close and there has been a big improvement from them.
"I have done my job in developing these players to where they are now and it would be a pity for the club to let them go. They are doing very well."