St Ives make the long trip to Sidmouth on the east Devon coast for what is their toughest assignment yet. Home wins against rivals Devonport Services in December and St Austell last weekend means that The Hakes have gone a full twelve months with a clean sheet of wins in their own back yard.
Sidmouth, however, will relish the opportunity to topple The Hakes impressive run of bonus point wins and put to rights their heavy defeat 44:12 in October. After a terrific start when winning at St Austell in the first round of this season’s league, Sidmouth went until the beginning of November before they recorded another victory. Even then it was a struggling one pointer 25:24 against Chard. Sidmouth were bottom of the table, Chard were sixth. That was after week nine. After last weekend’s results, Chard remain sixth, but Sidmouth have climbed to seventh on the back of seven straight wins.
St Ives last lost when away at Torquay at the end of October. So something must give. St Ives can really drive home their promotion hopes and credentials or Sidmouth can take their winning streak forwards, while putting pressure from the chasers onto The Hakes. The table below tracks each team path over the last two and a half months.
Head coaches Paul Thirlby and Rob Elloway have named a strong squad to travel. They will miss the carries and breaks made so consistently by Ben Taylor (rib) and Jamie Hoskin takes no part this week.
Other than these two, the squad has a very familiar look. Harry Parton comes back after battling with the flu over Christmas and the New Year. Sam Carter starts at half back with Liam Jolly on the bench. The impressive Matt Nicol returns on the bench ready to make an impact.
The stage is set. Supporters are most welcome and should be well entertained. Kick Off is at 2:30pm.
The full squad is