12 November 2010
FALLOW WEEK SUITS WHEAT
MIDLANDS BY PAUL ENGLISH
National League Three Midlands. The Potteries side hold the advantage at the top of the table with seven wins to Bromsgrove's six as league action resumes after a one week break for international rugby. "It was probably needed because
with three pre-season games and the first nine league games we have played 12 on the bounce. We now have a six- week run-in to Christmas so the week's break was welcome," said Longton's director of rugby Tony Wheat. "It has been good to let a few people
recuperate from some knocks and bumps though we haven't any serious injuries, and with the run of games that we have had people were appreciative of a week's rest."
Defeats against Luton and Sheffield
Tigers left question marks against Longton's promotion hopes but Wheat is generally happy with how their season is progressing. "We had a blip a couple of weeks ago after winning our first six," he said. "We weren't entirely happy with the way we were playing but we were finding ways to win which was good. "We had a couple of disappointing defeats, especially at home to Sheffield because we don't tend to lose many at home. But we bounced back and played well at Broadstreet a couple of weeks ago. That was important because we didn't want to get on a run of defeats. Obviously Broadstreet were at the top end of the league and although we played in fits and starts when we do play we are hard to stop." With Adrian Hales and Warren
Oliver, amongst others, doing the business for Bromsgrove, Wheat knows that his side have a difficult task this weekend.
“If you look at their record they seem to be scoring points for fun,” said Wheat. “Most of their tries seem to be
coming through their backs and they are a dynamic team who try to put a lot of pace on the game. “We know it will be a big challenge but we have the best defensive record in the league.”
However Wheat has a number of experienced faces in his side and he hopes that will give Longton the edge on Saturday.
"Craig Wilson is our coach and he played at Manchester alongside Scott and Gareth Rawlings. They bring a lot of high-level experience and know-how. Having them as player coaches they can have a direct influence on the field. Craig is one of the most dynamic front row players, Gareth can dominate games at No.8 and Scott is a massively powerful inside centre.”
South Leicester Broadstreet Luton
Peterborough Kenilworth Hereford
National League Three Midlands P W D L BP Pts 9 7 0 2 6 34 9 6 0 3 10 34 9 6 0 3 7 31 9 6 0 3 5 29 9 5 1 3 7 29 9 5 0 4 8 28
Old Northamptonians 9 5 1 3 4 26 Sheffield Tigers Malvern
9 5 0 4 5 25 9 4 0 5 6 22 9 4 0 5 4 20 9 3 0 6 4 16 9 3 0 6 3 15 9 2 0 7 4 12 9 1 0 8 4 8
Forthcoming Fixtures - Nov 13: Kenilworth v Burton; Longton v Bromsgrove; Malvern v Sheffield Tigers; Newport (Salop) v Luton; Old Northamptonians v Hereford; Peterborough v South Leicester; Scunthorpe v Broadstreet.
EAGUE leaders Longton welcome Bromsgrove to Trentham Lakes for the clash of the day in
approach one of their most important dates of the season - the derby against Waterloo on November 27. Before then Park will want to pick up points against Beverley this Saturday - and at Billingham on Saturday week. "We have been plagued by injuries, and not just from this season but from those we picked up last season," said McNally.
NATIONAL THREE Park get ready for clash with old friends NORTH BY PAUL ENGLISH
IRKENHEAD PARK's John McNally is confident his side are on the right track as they
"With one thing or another we have done well - I certainly think that we could be unbeaten at the moment if we had been picking from a full strength squad. We are getting players back from injury and the next three games will be important for us." One of those returning from injury
is player-coach David Blyth though the ex-Waterloo favourite is unlikely to be ready for the derby on November 27. "If we win these three then we should be in the top half of the table and hoping to stay there for the remainder of the season; certainly we would be looking for a top four finish," continued McNally. "This Saturday is hugely important and we have been working hard on our fitness for the past couple of weeks. We have wrecked teams in the first half
hour and then let teams come back at us. Chester was a prime example: we were 22-0 up with a bonus point at half- time yet lost 32-22. You can't point the finger at anything other than fitness." As important as the games against Beverley and Billingham are, the one that many at Birkenhead Park can't wait for is the game against Waterloo. "I'm ex-Waterloo myself when they
were in the first division," explained McNally. "Shaun Gallagher, our coach, is an ex-captain at Waterloo, and then there's Martin O'Keefe, Freeman Payne, Tony Handley, Andy Trotter and Gary Lunt - there's quite a long line of us though I hasten to add that a lot are Birkenhead lads who went there and have returned. It will be a very interesting game and we have many friends over there."
CIVIL SERVICES FACE A TOUGH RUN
LONDON and SOUTH EAST
By TOM COATES
F Civil Service finish their debut season in National League 3 London and South East in the top half of the table, coach Stefan Smith says he’ll be able to look back on the season with pride. The men from Duke’s Meadows find themselves in sixth place, having addressed an alarming dip in form to record two back-to-back victories ahead of last week’s international break.
“Making the jump into the National Leagues has been a big challenge, and the recent losing run we were on reflects that,” Smith told Rugby Times. “A lot of the teams we’ve played against have been at a higher level for a long time. They have the experience and resources that we perhaps lack. We’re learning as we’re going along though, and we’re well aware there have been some games during which we haven’t performed up to expectation.”
SOUTH WEST By TOM COATES
ONEY Hill coach Paul Morris is under no illusions about the importance of this weekend’s
match against Cheltenham. Hill have lost their last four games
and in the relegation zone and are 12 points from safety. Victory this weekend would not only close the gap on the teams above them, but also instil belief that the team have what it takes to overcome their considerable injury problems.
“Despite the week off last weekend, we still have a few players on what is sadly a huge injury list. It’s been a very difficult time for the first team in that respect,” Morris told Rugby Times. “There aren’t really any positions in particular we’ve been affected, as we’ve had problems across the park. There are three significant backs not playing at the moment and a few guys in the pack out of action.
“Several of our established first Victories over Diss and North
Walsham, the teams currently occupying the bottom two places in the division, has put Civil Service level on points with fifth-place Bishop’s Stortford.
But 13 points lie between the pair and the pace-setters in the top four. “The teams at the top are there on merit. I think Barnes are the strongest team out of them, but those four at the top are ahead of the rest of the division in many respects - there’s definitely a gap,” Smith explained.
“Those teams have got a great playing base. Dorking in particular have a team that’s been together for a few years, and I think you’ll see them really grow over the next few seasons. “As far as we’re concerned, we don’t have the same historical links or infrastructure, and all I’m after is for the boys to put their hands up and put perform to their potential.” A trip to Hertford awaits Smith’s men this Saturday. It's match that the coaching staff at Civil Service hope will
test their players and provide a yardstick against which they can measure their progress in recent weeks. “We’ll go to Hertford this weekend
and, regardless of the result, I want us to be able to come off the field knowing that we’ve put in 100%. “They’re one of the top teams in the division but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
And the going does not get any easier for Civil Service. The clash with Hertford is followed by the visit of second-placed Dorking and a trip to fourth-placed Ampthill. “We’ve got a tough couple of
fixtures coming up, we’re well aware of that but the focus remains on the next match, and no further. “Each opponent requires us to
adopt a different style and make use of the players we have available for each given week. Those two factors combined makes looking beyond the week ahead difficult. “The first target was to avoid finishing in the bottom three. But if we
Bradford & Bingley Penrith
Birkenhead Park Beverley
National League Three North P W D L BP Pts 9 8 0 1 6 38 9 8 0 1 5 37
Darlington Mowden Park 9 6 0 3 6 30 Lymm Sandal
9 6 0 3 4 28 9 6 0 3 3 27 9 6 0 3 3 27 9 5 0 4 6 26 9 5 0 4 5 25 9 4 0 5 5 21 9 3 0 6 7 19 9 3 0 6 5 17 9 2 0 7 6 14 9 1 0 8 6 10 9 0 0 9 3 3
Forthcoming fixtures - Nov 13: Birkenhead Park v Beverley; Bradford & Bingley v Billingham; Chester v Waterloo; Darlington Mowden Park v Stockport; Lymm v Sandal; Middlesbrough v Rossendale; Penrith v Rochdale.
could keep hold of our current top-half standing then that’d be fantastic. That will give us something to build on for next season, and it’d be an excellent start to life at this level for Civil Service. “It’s a wonderful achievement for a small club with such a small playing pool like ourselves.”
Dorking will be looking to bounce
back from their heavy defeat at promotion rivals Ampthill two weeks ago when they host Staines, table- topping Barnes travel to Diss, 14 days after putting 60 past Bishop’s Stortford, while North Walsham will be looking to move off the bottom of the table when they host Junior Paramore’s struggling Basingstoke side.
Barnes Dorking Hertford Ampthill
National League Three London & South East P W D L BP Pts 9 9 0 0 8 44 9 8 0 1 8 40 9 8 0 1 6 38 9 7 0 2 8 36
Bishop's Stortford 8 5 0 4 3 23 Staines
Civil Service Gravesend Tring9
Basingstoke Diss 9
9 4 1 3 5 23 9 4 0 5 7 23 9 4 0 5 4 20 4 0 5 2 18
9 3 0 6 4 16 9 2 0 7 6 14 9 2 0 7 4 12 1 0 8 5 9
9 1 1 7 3 9
Forthcoming Fixtures - Nov 13: Ampthill v Havant; Bishop's Stortford v Bracknell; Diss v Barnes; Dorking v Staines; Gravesend v Tring; Hertford v Civil Service; North Walsham v Basingstoke.
CONEY HILL HIT BY INJURIES
team players who’ve been successful for us for a number of years have not even played yet this season.
“Most of the blokes out we hope to have back in time for the new year. That will certainly help us out in terms of quality and depth of quality.” The men from Metz Way have also lost players to the lure of a pay packet, a luxury, Morris explains, this his club can’t afford. “We’re in a situation where certain games have passed us by this season. We can’t afford to let this Saturday be one of those games. “Training’s been a lot more physical this week than it has been of late. The battle at the break-down is going to be key, we can’t let them just run us off our feet.
“We have to prepare, we have to focus and, come Saturday, we have to live it.”
Coney Hill have recorded just one win this season, a 41-34 victory away at
Oxford Harlequins at the end of September, but the coaching staff’s faith remains with the players. “It’s going to be tight but I’m confident we have the players at the club capable of keeping the team in the division,” said Morris.
“Last week’s defeat to Bridgwater
& Albion was probably the lowest point of the season so far, but I’ve felt reassured by the way we’ve responded this week.
“I think our hardest fixtures are now behind us and I’m confident we can keep ourselves in touch with the mid-table pack. We know we need to start picking up some victories, and ideally we’d like another four or five wins before Christmas.
“If we can do that then I think we’ll kick on and stay up with a little bit to spare.”
Runaway leaders Hartpury College host Bournemouth on Saturday, eager to keep second-placed Bridgwater &
Albion, who visit Exmouth, at arms length.
Old Patesians, the only team to beat the table-topping Students, host Redingensians, while Cleve entertain fifth-placed Chinnor.
National League Three South West P W D L BP Pts 9 8 0 1 8 40
Bridgwater & Albion 9 7 0 2 5 33 Old Patesians Bournemouth Chinnor
Oxford Harlequins Cheltenham Coney Hill Cleve
9 7 0 2 4 32 9 7 0 2 3 31 9 6 1 2 3 29 9 5 1 3 5 27
Weston-super-Mare 9 5 0 4 3 23 Exmouth
9 4 0 5 6 22 9 4 0 5 5 21 9 4 0 5 4 20 9 3 0 6 5 17 9 1 0 8 7 11 9 1 0 8 1 5 9 0 0 9 4 4
Forthcoming Fixtures - Nov 13: Cleve v Chinnor; Coney Hill v Cheltenham; Exmouth v Bridgwater & Albion; Hartpury College v Bournemouth; Newton Abbot v Barnstaple; Old Patesians v Redingensians; Oxford Harlequins v Weston-super-Mare.
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