St Ives v Withycombe
Sometimes sporting contests are built up well beyond their actual importance. After all, some might say, it’s only a game. Try telling that to the men of St Ives and Withycombe who will be taking the field tomorrow. This is a true top-of-the-table promotion battle. Not quite a decider, but a really important contest, the outcome of which will potentially decide who goes up.
The Hakes are able to field a very familiar pack, strengthened on the bench by the addition of Guy Pallett, who is not required to start in the centre and the experienced Neil Corn, who makes his seventh appearance this season.
In the backs, Grant Thirlby, returning after his red card ban, replaces Guy Pallett. Bobby Conroy-Smith and Peter Mabbott come back onto the wings to make this squad very similar to the one that defeated Withycombe at Raleigh Park last December. The only notable absences from that team are Sam Heath, from the pack, side-lined for the season with injury and Greg Lloydall, who is on Royal Navy duties. Head coach, Paul Thirlby, will be playing at fly half this time round.
Withycombe are dreaming of the possibility of a double; a return to Western Counties for the first time since 2009-10 and the National Junior Vase. They are in the final at Twickenham on 7th May. They have found themselves in third place in the league for the past three seasons and know the sting of ‘almost, but not quite’. They will surely have trained as a committed squad due to the successful cup campaign and will arrive at Alexandra Road fully prepared. Last week they suffered at the hands of Bude. The Cornish visitors put thirty five unanswered points on the board in the first half. However, Withycombe ‘won’ the second half 19:5, scoring three tries in the process.
St Ives are certainly fielding a strong looking and experienced side that know they can beat their opponents. A win today pushes the promotion door wide open for the Hakes to bounce back at the first opportunity. Remaining fixtures can be considered after this result. This is the one to watch. The club hopes that The Hakes will get plenty of support. The kick-off is at 3:00pm. Come and cheer them on!
The full squad is: