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Saumi makes eight changes in Albion side to take on Aberavon

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 13, 2012

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Canada internationals Aaron Carpenter, Sean-Michael Stephen and Brett Beukeboom all return for Plymouth Albion as they name a strong line-up to take on Aberavon Wizards at Brickfields in the British and Irish Cup tomorrow (7.45pm).

Albion managed to squeeze a narrow 21-20 win over the Welsh Premiership strugglers at the Talbot Athletic Ground last Saturday to keep alive their faint hopes of progressing from Pool Seven.

Plymouth head coach Nat Saumi has made eight changes to that team as he looks for a big home performance ahead of their Championship clash against the Cornish Pirates on Boxing Day.

As well as Carpenter, Stephen and Beukeboom, also returning to the team are Keni Fisilau, Jon Vickers, Tom Bowen, Ien Ascroft-Leigh and Lewis Warner.

"We've tried to select a strong team as we have got a long time before the Pirates game – I think it is ten days – and players need game-time," said Saumi.

Albion do not include any Exeter Chiefs dual-registered players in their starting line-up, although Will Carrick-Smith and Lloyd Fairbrother are on the bench.

Carrick-Smith could make his home debut for Albion tomorrow, having previously featured in the away Cup games at Aberavon and Rotherham.

Also on the bench is fit-again experienced utility back Paul Bailey. He broke his hand against Jersey at the start of last month and required surgery but he has recovered faster than expected, much to the delight of Albion. "He has done a fitness test this week and he did very well," said Saumi. "His fitness levels have not changed.

"He is one of the elder statesmen of the team and it is good to have his experience back, especially with Henry Slade away at an England Under-20 training camp this week."

Lock Ascroft-Leigh and centre Toby Howley-Berridge will both be looking to put in another good performance with their current contracts coming to an end this month.

The pair arrived at the club on trial in the summer and Albion initially offered both of them deals to the end of the year. When asked if the club had decided whether to extend their contracts, Saumi said: "We'll decide at the end of the month. We still have a couple of games to play.

"They have been training and performing well. Hopefully we will keep them for the rest of the season."

Plymouth Albion: McAtee; Warner, Howley-Berridge, Fisilau, Bowen; Roberts, Rowley; Rogers, Vickers, Morton; Beukeboom, Ascroft-Leigh; Stephen (capt), Matavesi, Carpenter. Replacements: Cushion, Armitage, Carrick-Smith, Fairbrother, Salter, Nasiga, Bailey.

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