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Saumi delighted as nine-try Plymouth Albion send out a message to their rivals

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 17, 2012

Plymouth Albion's Lewis Warner leaps over the tackle of Aberavon Wizards' Jonathan Phillips picture: Dan Mullan/Pinnacle

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Plymouth Albion coach Nat Saumi was delighted his team did what he asked of them on Friday against Aberavon Wizards and sent out a message to their Championship rivals.

Albion scored nine tries against the Welsh Premiership strugglers to run out 59-0 winners in the British and Irish Cup Pool Seven match.

Although Saumi admitted Aberavon did not offer his team the test he would have liked, he believes other sides, including their next opponents the Cornish Pirates, will have taken notice of Albion's big win.

"I was pleased," said Saumi. "It was a good result for the boys.

"We have set the tone for the Pirates game, which was our goal.

"Hopefully, Pirates and some other teams will dwell on that [the score].

"We want to set a tone for Brickfields again and for teams to know that it will be a tough game for them to come here.

"The Pirates will look at that score and they will know that coming up here will be a tough game for them [on Boxing Day]."

He added: "Defensively the boys did well to keep their line intact.

"But ball retention was the most important thing for us on Friday – that was our target for the week.

"Looking overall at the first half of the season, giving away balls and then chasing, was where we struggled. But we did very well to keep the ball on Friday."

Albion had struggled to turn possession and territory into points when they visited Aberavon the week before – and they nearly paid the price for it, narrowly winning 21-20.

But on Friday they did kill off Aberavon early.

"We had a couple of chances the previous week but did not finish them off and that is what we worked on during the week – our finishing," said Saumi.

"The first ten minutes we were trying to have a real go. We were trying to score two tries – that was our target. We managed to do that and it came out okay for us."

Aberavon have won just one game all season, and while they have shown flashes of collective ability in that time, they were poor on Friday evening. When asked if he would have preferred a tougher test, Saumi admitted: "I would have preferred that, but for the boys it was just about confidence, which they got on Friday

"I hope they go forward with it."

Saumi, whose team have now conceded 59 points and scored 59 in separate British & Irish Cup matches this season, added: "We knew that most of their [Aberavon's] guys work – they are a part-time team not a full-time team – and we know they were travelling down to play on the night. Even some league teams struggle to come down and play us on the night. It is a long trip and most of these guys work, but it was just all about us setting the tone.

"People might think it was against a weaker team and that's true but for us it was just about getting that confidence so we can go forward.

"Everyone is looking forward to the Pirates game now."

Saumi admitted he has got a team a mind for the Pirates match, but he said it will not be easy to name after Albion's wins over Aberavon and their good performance at Newcastle.

"Some of the boys made a point this week and last, so it is quite tough," he said. "I have already got my team, but I will go home and dwell on it again.

"It is very hard now for me to pick the team."

Meanwhile, Saumi has finally confirmed that Albion have released long-serving prop Ryan Hopkins from his contract at Brickfields.

However, Saumi says the 32-year-old, who has made just one replacement appearance this season after being first choice last term, will remain registered with the club for at least another month in case of emergencies on a pay-as-you-play basis.

Albion, who have also allowed fellow prop Kyle Mason to register for Newton Abbot, recently signed Alex Brown on a dual-registered agreement from Exeter Chiefs.

However, Brown is currently injured and Lloyd Fairbrother is also struggling with a niggling injury. Saumi said: "We have released Ryan from his contract, but we have not de-registered him.

"We might hold on to him for another month because a couple of tight-heads, Alex Brown and Lloyd Fairbrother, are struggling with niggling injuries."

This season Hopkins was attempting to combine his rugby with undertaking a post-graduate teaching diploma.

Saumi said: "Ryan has been concentrating on his studies at university.

"I think he felt it would be easy to balance both [rugby and his studies] but he found it a bit tough."

Saumi, though, has praised Hopkins, who made his debut fo the club in 2004, for his efforts for Albion over the years.

"He has done a tremendous job for the club, especially in the last two years," said Saumi. "He has put his body on the line and has always put the club first.

"But rugby is not a long-term career and it is good for him that he is moving forward with his family and studies."

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