Plymouth Albion's cup hopes rest on win in Wales
PLYMOUTH Albion coach Nat Saumi knows it is vital his team win in Aberavon tomorrow if they are to have any hope of progressing in the British & Irish Cup.
Albion already face an uphill battle to top the group after losing their opening two fixtures against Munster and Rotherham.
But another defeat would make it almost impossible to qualify for the quarter-finals.
That would be a major blow for the club with two home games still to come.
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Albion are struggling to get people through the gates for league games and so it would be even tougher to attract support for a cup game with nothing resting on it.
But Saumi hopes it will not come to that.
He insists Albion are going to south Wales tomorrow for a confidence-boosting win, which would not only keep them alive in the cup but also help them building for the re-start of the Championship after Christmas.
"We are building into the second round of the Championship after a good performance at Newcastle last week," said Saumi, whose side have won just one of their last eight league and cup fixtures.
"We want to try and keep moving forward."
Saumi certainly has not given up on qualifying for the cup quarter-finals, despite their opening two losses.
"There's always a chance and that's why we have tried to pick a good team who can perform in Wales.
"We have then got the return leg at home next week."
First team squad regulars Paul Roberts, Bevon Armitage, Wayne Sprangle, Toby Howley-Berridge, Paul Rowley, Jack Arnott and Rhodri McAtee all start for Albion tomorrow.
Only three players who have not started a league game this season will line up for the club against struggling Aberavon. They are dual-registered Exeter Chiefs lock Will Carrick-Smith, winger Sam Jones and hooker Jamie Salter.
However, Carrick-Smith and Jones did start Albion's last cup game at Rotherham.
Saumi said: "People like Sam Jones and Jamie Salter have not played for a while and so this is a chance for them to try and cement places for the second round of the Championship."
Saumi admits he does not know too much about tomorrow's opponents.
Aberavon currently sit second bottom of the Welsh Premiership having won just one game this season.
But Saumi, whose team have only won once on their travels this term, insists it will not be easy to win in Wales.
"We don't really know too much about them," said Saumi. "We have watched them on DVD, but like all Welsh teams they will play with a lot of pride.
"It will be tough game for us going there."
Albion: 15 Rhodri McAtee, 14 Jack Arnott, 13 Toby Howley-Berridge, 12 Bevon Armitage, 11 Sam Jones, 10 Paul Roberts, 9 Paul Rowley, 1 Ben Rogers, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 David Morton, 4 Will Carrick-Smith, 5 Ien Ascroft-Leigh, 6 Wayne Sprangle, 7 Sam Matavesi, 8Harrison Tovey. Reps:Ruairi Cushion, Lewis Warner, Tom Bowen, Alex Brown/Lloyd Fairbrother, Jon Vickers, Rupeni Nasiga, Aaron Carpenter