Top four facing tough trips as they bid to stay undefeated
League leaders Tynedale, along with Stourbridge, Hinckley and South Leicester are all in action away from home in Round Four as they look to maintain their winning starts to the season.
Tyne and Stour have picked up the full complement of 15 points while Hinckley and South are just a single point behind at this early stage of the season, nut all four sides face tough games on their travels this weekend.
Also in Round Four, Macclesfield travel to Huddersfield, a strong Sale have their second dosing of Sheffield, Luctonians go to Chester and Blaydon host Otley.
Leicester Lions v Tynedale
It has been an impressive start to the season for Scott Lawson. For the Newcastle Falcon, he will be pleased with their beginning to the new Aviva Premiership season, but he also has something else to smile about on a Saturday as his Tynedale side currently sit on top of National Two North after three rounds. Three straight wins is the reason for that, but they did leave it late to maintain their unbeaten start last weekend against Huddersfield, so they’ll be hoping for a less stressful afternoon when they take the trip to the Midlands tomorrow.
While Tynedale have a 100 per cent record to boast about, things couldn’t be more different for Leicester Lions. Jack Heald’s team have had a very tough start and find themselves winless as we enter the final week of September. The Lions seem to be a shadow of the team that finished in third last year, but they certainly have the quality to put things right and a win against an in-form Tynedale will give them a well needed boost.
Wharfedale v Stourbridge
Neil Mitchell’s Stourbridge have certainly slammed the door shut on a miserable end to last season. After sliding down the table, which saw them finished in eighth place, the Midlands side have gathered themselves in pre-season and have begun this campaign on the front foot by securing three straight wins. They look like they are back to their best and will feel confident about making it four wins from four when they travel to Wharfedale tomorrow.
The Yorkshire side have struggled to get going this term and three straight defeats is not the start James Doherty would have had in mind. Following a season of injuries which affected results, Dale would’ve hoped that this year would be a fresh start as they build their way back towards National One, but so far it hasn’t been like this. However, a victory on home soil – where they have won nine from their last 11 games, could be the catalyst they need.
Sedgley Park v Hinckley
After just one win from their first seven games last term, Hinckley are a side that are constantly going in the right direction. The Midlands side finished ninth last season following promotion and have begun this term under George Chuter with three wins from three. Their latest came against Leicester Lions last weekend, but their trip to Sedgley Park in Round Four is arguably their toughest test yet.
In addition to that, Matt Bebbington’s Sedgley Park will be fired up following a defeat to South Leicester last weekend. Sedge’s Simon Phillips told TRU this week that their result in Round Three was disappointing, but they can bounce back this Saturday against Hinckley. In truth, Bebbington’s reign at Park Lane has begun well but a third win from four matches would just add a bit more gloss to their strong start.
Sheffield Tigers v South Leicester
It has been a notable start for South Leicester. A side that two years ago finished on the cusp of relegation is continuing to make waves in this division following promotion in 2015. The men from Welford Road emphasised this point with an excellent win over Sedgley Park last weekend to make it three wins on the trot as they head to Dore Moor to face Sheffield Tigers in Round Four.
The Tigers’ roar was muted last week as they were blown away by Sale FC at Heywood Road. The Yorkshire side conceded eight tries – their highest amount since promotion to this level last year – so they’ll be hoping for a reaction back on home soil this weekend as they search for their second win of the term.
Huddersfield v Macclesfield
Macclesfield are back on their travels this weekend following a comfortable and convincing win over Blaydon in Round Three. It was the perfect response by the Blues following a frustrating defeat on their last away outing against Cheshire rivals, Chester. A victory for Macc from their trip to Yorkshire tomorrow would signal a good start for Giles Heagerty’s men, who are looking to return to National One at the first attempt.
Last season, Huddersfield and Macclesfield were separated by two divisions and Gareth Lewis must have thought their first win back in National Two North was secured last week. Field were minutes away from beating Tynedale, before victory was snatched away from them but their positive display will give them confidence heading into this tricky test against Macclesfield. Can Huddersfield claim their first triumph at this level?
Sale FC v Sheffield
On their club website, Sale FC described their win over Sheffield Tigers as ‘getting their season back on track’ and the way they performed at Heywood Road last week suggested this. It was a commanding display following the disappointment of losing to Sedgley Park and the Manchester outfit will be aiming for a similar outcome when the second team from the Steel City visit tomorrow.
Sale have lost just once in their last 17 home matches in the league so the challenge that faces newly promoted Sheffield is a tough one. The Yorkshire side have certainly not fallen by the wayside in the early stages of their time in this division, despite a slow first half performance against Stourbridge in Round Three. However, this is a results game and Sheffield will want to get off the mark for this season as soon as they can. A win against last year’s play-off finalists would not be a bad way to do just that.
Chester v Luctonians
Ryan Watkins would have been pleased with the way his team responded to their defeat against Stourbridge. In Round Two, a slow start allowed the Midlands side to take control of that encounter, but the Lucts bounced back with an assured win at Mortimer Park against Wharfedale last week. Now, the next step for the Herefordshire outfit is to translate their form into away performances as they travel to Chester in Round Four.
In contrast, Chester would have been disappointed not to back up their first win of the season in Round Three. After clinching an excellent derby victory over Macclesfield, the Cheshire side were outplayed by Otley last Saturday and return home looking to bounce back. Chester’s form on their own patch has been impressive over the last year and tomorrow, they will be aiming for their 13th victory from their last 17 matches at Hare Lane.
Blaydon v Otley
Last week, Otley achieved something they had not been able to manage since February; back to back wins. Peter Clegg’s side were worthy winners against Chester to make it two wins on the spin and now they travel to the northeast this Saturday full of confidence that they can add to their recent positive results.
The reason for this is due to the way Blaydon have started this term. Ally Hogg’s men have struggled to settle in this division following relegation from National One and that has been clear on the pitch following three straight defeats, the latest coming against Macclesfield. The Crows need to take flight sooner rather than later, and a victory in front of their own supporters tomorrow would do them the world of good.