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By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: December 25, 2013

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PLYMOUTH Albion head coach James Shanahan believes his side could serve up a surprise when they visit the Mennaye Field for a Christmas cracker of a match against the Cornish Pirates on Boxing Day.

The formbook and Greene King IPA Championship table point heavily to a home win, but Albion only lost 19-17 in West Cornwall last season, and Shanahan believes they could sneak the spoils this time around.

The former Pirates fly-half said: "It is a local derby and in those games anything can happen.

"After our British and Irish Cup game against Munster last weekend, all of our focus has been on our visit to the Pirates, and if we can put in a good performance, I know we can shock a few people.

"It will be a massive challenge for us as the Pirates are always very strong at home.

"They are a good side who are coached well and they have experienced players in crucial positions."

The Pirates have suffered only two defeats in their last 12 league and cup matches, whereas Albion have lost four of their last five games in the Championship to trail Pirates by ten points in the table.

Albion are set to give a league debut to on-loan 6ft 7in Kiwi lock Romana Graham, who joined Exeter Chiefs from the New Zealand-based Super-15 Chiefs during the summer.

They are also hoping that another of their players from Sandy Park, dual-registered England Under-20 hooker and former Pirates minis player Luke Cowan-Dickie, will have recovered in time from a knee injury.

However, his international team-mate and fellow hooker, Max Crumpton, who was on-loan from Premiership side Saracens, has left Albion to join Harlequins for the rest of the season.

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