Bottom sides prepared for battle in National Two South
Old Redcliffians and London Irish Wild Geese may well be approaching Round Seven in National Two South knowing a result this weekend could help shape the rest of their season.
Wild Geese host ORs this Saturday with both sides in need of a victory as they currently sit at the wrong end of the table.
It is the Wild Geese who currently occupy a spot just outside the relegation zone while Old Redcliffians are only five points behind. Even though we are just seven weeks into the campaign, both sides will be eyeing up this fixture as a chance to get some crucial points on the board.
Wimbledon are currently propping up the division as their search for a first ever win in National Two South continues away at Clifton this Saturday while Worthing Raiders have a tricky test at home to Cinderford, Henley Hawks host Barnstaple and Broadstreet go to Redingensians.
At the right end of the table, Taunton Titans will be looking to continue their sensational start to the campaign away at Bury St Edmunds, while second placed Chinnor host Tonbridge Juddians and fourth placed Canterbury are at home against fifth placed Redruth.
Bury St Edmunds v Taunton Titans
Taunton Titans moved to the top of National Two South last week following a thrashing of Worthing Raiders and they will be aiming to stay at the summit when they face off against Bury St Edmunds on Saturday. The Titans have been relentless so far this season, scoring 45 tries in their opening six matches, and Tony Yapp’s men show no signs of stopping this rampant behaviour.
Bury St Edmunds narrowly lost out to Redruth at the Recreation Ground last weekend, but that result doesn’t take the shine off a very bright start by Ollie Smith’s men. An opening day defeat to Tonbridge Juddians was a shock, but since then, they have secured four victories and they nearly made it five last Saturday in Cornwall. The Wolfpack will welcome Taunton to Suffolk believing they can upset the odds as they aim to end the Titans’ unbeaten start to the campaign.
Chinnor v Tonbridge Juddians
Last week could prove to be a crucial moment in Chinnor’s season, even at this early stage of the campaign. Victory over Cinderford away from home ended the Gloucestershire side’s unbeaten start to the season and lifted Matt Williams’ side up to second in the division. After passing that test with flying colours, the Black and Whites return home this weekend to take on Tonbridge Juddians as they aim to hunt down Taunton Titians.
For any newly promoted side, it always helps if you get off to a good start and I think Tonbridge Juddians will be satisfied with how things have gone thus far. TJs currently sit ninth in the table after three wins from their first six matches, but they head to Kingsey Road having lost their last two games. The Kent-based side will be itching to put that right as quickly as possible, but considering Chinnor have not lost a home league match in 21 months, it will be a momentous task for TJs.
Worthing Raiders v Cinderford
Both Worthing Raiders and Cinderford suffered defeats last weekend and both will want to erase them from their memories as soon as possible. The visitors, Cinderford, saw their 100 per cent record end in Round Six as a strong Chinnor side came away from Dockham Road with maximum points so Paul Morris’ men will now be hoping for an immediate response when they travel to Roundstone Lane tomorrow.
A response is something Worthing will desperately want. Last weekend, they were completely outclassed by league leaders Taunton Titans in an 81-14 defeat and the Raiders’ tough start to the month only gets harder this weekend. After a promising beginning to the season, Jody Levett’s men have just gone off the boil slightly, but they do have the quality to arrest a run of four straight defeats this Saturday.
Canterbury v Redruth
It is fourth versus fifth in National Two South this weekend as Canterbury welcome Redruth to the Marine Travel Ground. The hosts are currently flying as they enter this fixture on the back of five straight wins which matches the form of both Taunton Titans and Chinnor. The City Men have had to battle for those aforementioned victories, but their play as fully merited their excellent start to the season. However, the visit of Redruth is arguably their toughest test of the campaign since their opening day defeat against Cinderford.
Redruth currently find themselves five points adrift of Canterbury and they are doing just enough to stay in touch with the top four as we head into Round Seven. The Reds’ home form this season has been faultless as they look to build on two very strong campaigns, but if they are to really challenge for a promotion spot, their away form needs to improve. Both of Redruth’s defeats this term have come on the road (against Barnstaple and Taunton Titians) and a trip to an in-form Canterbury side isn’t exactly a perfect opportunity to break that duck, but Redruth have more than enough quality to clinch their first win on their travels.
Redingensians v Broadstreet
Redingensians would have been pleased to nip a run of two straight defeats in the bud last weekend as they began October with a victory. The Rams comfortably beat Tonbridge Juddians to secure their third win of the season which lifted them up to the very familiar position of seventh in the table. The men from Old Bath Road have become accustomed to the top half of the division since their promotion in 2015 and they are once again having another solid season at this level.
The Rams have picked up just one win at home thus far – that coming in Round Two against London Irish Wild Geese – so they will be hoping to add to that when Broadstreet visit Berkshire this Saturday. However, Street will head south in a buoyant mood after clinching their first ever win in National Two South last Saturday. The Midlands side saw off London Irish Wild Geese in a highly entertaining battle, but Paul Hurst and his side will now be aiming to crack the code away from home as they look to build on last weekend’s maiden triumph.
Henley Hawks v Barnstaple
While the leaves started to fall as September turned to October, the results for Henley Hawks started to blossom into life. Victory over Broadstreet and a draw with Old Redcliffians arrested a run of three straight defeats and it is exactly what the Hawks needed to steady the ship. Pete Davies’ side now occupy 11th in the table, but a victory over Barnstaple this weekend could see them jump into the top half.
Like Henley, Barnstaple have put a halt to a sequence of defeats. Following two wins on the spin to begin the season, Barum slipped to three straight defeats but bounced back from a difficult end to September with victory over Clifton last Saturday. The win lifted Steve Perry’s men up to eighth in the table and now they will be keen to capitalise on that. However, Barnstaple’s away record in this division doesn’t make for good reading as they have won just two of their last 18 games on the road. They’ll be aiming to add another ‘W’ to that stat this Saturday.
Clifton v Wimbledon
Clifton started the second month of the season with a defeat away at Barnstaple so they will be keen to recapture the sort of form they were in at the end of September. The Lavender and Blacks strung together back to back victories for the first time since January, but now they want to return to winning ways as soon as possible, starting with this weekend’s clash against Wimbledon.
For all their endeavour in the first six weeks of this season, Wimbledon are still waiting for their first ever win at this level. Despite not been too far away from their maiden triumph, they currently sit bottom of the table and are already seven points from safety. The southwest London side need to turn their positives into victories otherwise alarm bells may start to ring.
London Irish Wild Geese v Old Redcliffians
Arguably, the next couple of weeks could prove vital for London Irish Wild Geese. Following a battle against the drop last term, games against newcomers to the division are crucial if a side is to avoid another fight for survival and a fixture which falls into that category is this weekend’s clash with Old Redcliffians.
The Geese beat new boys Tonbridge Juddians at the end of September before slipping to a defeat against Broadstreet last Saturday so they will be keen to return to winning ways, especially with Barnstaple and Wimbledon to come in October. However, it won’t be straightforward for the men from Hazlewood as Old Redcliffians travel to Sunbury-On-Thames having opened their account for the season. A draw with Henley Hawks will certainly have boosted morale at Scotland Lane and this game against Wild Geese presents a good opportunity for ORs to claim their first victory of the season.