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Saumi acknowledges Albion face a tough test at unbeaten Bedford

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 05, 2012

Wing Jack Arnott drops out of the Plymouth Albion side to enable him to rest a shoulder injury Simon Bryant/Pinnacle

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Head coach Nat Saumi hopes his Plymouth Albion team will go into the break for the British & Irish Cup flying high in the Championship.

Albion, who sit third in the league after four wins out of five, have one more game to play before the cup takes precedence for a couple of weeks.

However, that match is their toughest to date – a trip to Goldington Road to take on unbeaten Bedford and Saumi admits his side face a tough challenge tomorrow.

However, the Fijian knows his team will head to second-placed Bedford in confident mood after their 15-3 home win over Rotherham last weekend, which was their biggest win of the season and the first time they had not conceded a try.

"Bedford are still undefeated this season so it is another big challenge for us," said Saumi.

"We had a good game against Rotherham and they drew with Bedford, but for us it is just about improving week in, week out.

"You just have to give that extra one per cent each week to improve as a team. It will be good to go and put in a good performance before we go into the British & Irish Cup."

Albion and Bedford are two of the most settled teams in the Championship this season.

Last weekend Albion, who have made their best start to the season since 2006/07 when they won five out of five games, only had four new signings in their starting line-up, while Bedford only had three summer arrivals in their side last Saturday. "Some of Bedford's players have been there seven or eight years," said Saumi.

"They have been together for a while and it will be a tough ask for us. It is a challenge for us but we will go and try our best and enjoy the game.

"Bedford, as a team as a whole, are the most experienced we have faced so far. Players like Ben Gulliver have been in this league for a long time.

"It will be a tough test, but we will have a go."

Although Albion have only won twice at Goldington Road in their history, they do have players in their squad who know what it takes to win there.

Ruairi Cushion, Wayne Sprangle and Keni Fisilau were among the Albion team that won their during the 2009/10 season.

"We have got those experienced guys there who can give confidence to the younger boys coming into the team," said Saumi.

"Aaron Carpenter is also there on the bench again with Rupeni [Nasiga] and they can bring that extra edge and experience again.

"I am really looking forward to the challenge."

Saumi has made just one change to the team that beat Rotherham under floodlights at Brickfields last Friday, with Lewis Warner coming in for his debut in place of 19-year-old city youngster Jack Arnott.

"Jack Arnott has played five games in two weeks and has been struggling with his shoulder, so I thought with all the rugby he has played I'd give him a rest," said Saumi.

"I have put Lewis Warner straight in as he has been training very well and played well in pre-season.

"He is looking forward to hopefully taking his chance and I hope he does."

Plymouth Albion: Slade; Bailey, Howley-Berridge, Armitage, Warner; Roberts, Cushion; Cowan-Dickie, Vickers, Fairbrother; Beukeboom, Ascroft-Leigh; Sprangle, Hocking, Stephen (capt). Replacements: McAtee, Morton, Nasiga, Andrew, Cowan-Dickie, Carpenter, Fisilau.

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