Plymouth Albion determined to stay in top eight
PLYMOUTH Albion are determined not to get dragged into a relegation battle.
That is the view of their Canadian international Aaron Carpenter, who remains confident the team can stay in the top eight of the Championship.
After winning four out of their opening five matches in September, Albion have won just once in the league since.
They suffered their sixth defeat in seven Championship matches on Boxing Day when they narrowly lost 9-5 to the Cornish Pirates at a rain-soaked Brickfields.
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Albion will start 2013 in eighth place – 11 points clear of the bottom team in the league.
This year the relegation play-offs have been scrapped so only the bottom side will go down.
Although Albion currently have a decent gap between themselves and Doncaster at the foot of the table, they do not want it closing any further.
"We have got 10 games left in the season and we just have to stay in eighth place and move up if we can," said Carpenter.
"Every one of those 10 games left count as we don't want a relegation scare or anything like that."
He added: "At the end of the day our goal is to finish in the top eight and we just have to keep looking at that and just trying to stay there and build."
Carpenter thought Albion should have won against the Pirates on Wednesday.
"We definitely thought we were the better team on the day – more physical and more powerful – but they just played a little bit more smarter than us and took their opportunities," he said.
"It was also luck of the draw. Their penalties were closer to the posts and they made them count.
"We will look at it and see what we can do to step up, but we did get a (bonus) point out of it and we just have to keep building.
"We just needed to be smarter, but you can't be disappointed with the boys' efforts. We threw everything at them."
Carpenter admitted the wet and windy conditions made it hard.
"It was difficult in that wind," he said. "We were trying to hold the ball as much as we could in that first half, but I think it hurt us giving a couple of cheaps kicks to them when we maybe should have kept hold of the ball.
"We could have put them under a bit more pressure by just holding the ball.
"We kicked it and then they found space behind us and put us under more pressure and that led to their kicks for points."
He added: "It was difficult to play and keep hold of the ball when it is raining like that.
"You just try and go through the phases and keep hold of the ball and use your forward power, but it sucks because the backs can't really get anything going.
"This year our backs have been really good, but they didn't get the chance to really play because of the conditions."
Albion's line-out also let them down again. They lost around three-quarters of their throws.
"I think it hurt not having Brett (Beukeboom) around as he runs our line-out. It was a last-minute thing. He just called in ill on the day.
"It was tough, but we did the best we could, but it was a difficult day for line-outs as well. The wind was pretty rough and with the rain the ball was a bit slick which made it hard to find your man."
Albion now do not play until they face Leeds at Headingley on January 6.
Albion beat Leeds at Brickfields at the start of the season and Carpenter hopes he team can get 2013 off to a winning start.
"I think Leeds is a team we normally play well against, but the Pirates for some reason just have the jinx on us at the moment. Maybe it's payback (for all the years Albion kept beating them).
PLYMOUTH-born back Henry Slade has signed a new two-year contract with Premiership club Exeter Chiefs.
Slade has been dual-registered with Albion for the past two seasons.