Saumi tells his Plymouth Albion players to send message
Plymouth Albion coach Nat Saumi wants his team to send a message to their Championship rivals tonight when they entertain Welsh side Aberavon in the British & Irish Cup (7.45pm).
Albion failed to do that last weekend in Wales, where they needed an late Paul Roberts penalty to rescue a 21-20 win against struggling Aberavon.
But Saumi has brought back some of Albion's big names for tonight's re-match and he hopes his team can really produce a top-class performance to head into their Boxing Day league clash with the Cornish Pirates.
"The boys need a strong performance this week, just to set the standard," said Saumi, who has recalled influential Canadian forwards Sean-Michael Stephen, Aaron Carpenter and Brett Beukeboom.
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"We have got the Pirates game coming up and some other big league matches and we need to send a message out."
Last week's narrow win over Aberavon was only Albion's second victory since the end of September.
They won four of their opening five matches but then found results hard to come by.
They will start the second half of Championship programme in eighth place.
Saumi, though, is confident his team will return to form for the start of the second half of the league campaign.
"Every team goes through a dip in form during a season," said Saumi.
"But the good thing for us at this stage of the season is that most of our younger players have got so much experience now.
"Selection of the team is getting tougher because of the experience the younger players got early in the season."
Saumi admitted winning last week was important to his team, despite the fact they failed to produce the storming performance they had hoped for. "It was an away game and we just had to win – even if only by one point," said Saumi.
"We just needed a win for confidence."
He added: "Hopefully, this week we can take our chances."
Aberavon have not won away this season. In fact, they have only won one game during this campaign.
They also arrive at Brickfields knowing that they cannot realistically qualify for the quarter-finals, having lost all three of their pool games so far. Albion are not sure what team the Welsh part-timers will send down to Plymouth tonight, but Saumi expects a tough clash whatever side they put out.
"They are a team from Wales and England v Wales games are always tough," he said.
"It will also be difficult because they have nothing to play for, so they are likely to just give everything.
"That is why we have to be on our toes."