Whitchurch will look to carry their winning momentum into the new year by turning the tables on Hereford in Saturday’s Midlands 1 West trip to Wyeside.

After their festive break, the Reds embark on their opening action of 2019 in good shape, lying third in the table, and with 10 wins from their 14 outings to date.

It promises to be a tricky test, though, against a Hereford side who ran out 20-17 winners when the sides met at Edgeley Park back in September.

But coach Scott Sturdy will be looking for the north Shropshire men to build on their efforts in the first half of the campaign, with their 19-5 home victory against Dudley Kingswinford on December 15 capping off an excellent year.

“It’s been a fantastic 2018, and to get our first league win against Dudley Kingswinford in my time with the club was the perfect way to finish the year,” he said.

“We’re delighted to be third at Christmas.

“We now want to keep that form going and start the year on a winning note.

“We can go there with confidence, but Hereford is a tough place to go as it’s not a massive pitch and can get heavy if it rains.

“Unusually for them, they seem to be struggling a bit at home this season, while doing better away, but nevertheless they represent a big challenge for us.

“They are one of the four sides to have beaten us this season.

“I missed that game, but by all accounts we could have won it.”

With more than 30 players used already this season, Sturdy is aware his side’s efforts in reaching third spot midway through the season may have taken a toll on the Edgeley Park side.

With that mind, he decided to give his players a complete Christmas off while they went two weeks without playing, but admits he will not know if that decision is a good or bad one until the final whistle at the weekend.

He added: “With a lot of the players battered and bruised, we decided to give them a good break over Christmas in which to recover.

“That decision will be proved right or wrong on Saturday.

“It will come down to three things: how many players we have got available, the conditions and how well prepare this week.

“After Hereford, we’ve got Longton (home) and Malvern (away) and we really need to be winning all three if we are going to be serious about a top three finish.”

After winning four of their last five outings, the Reds find themselves healthily placed in third, 14 points behind leaders Bromsgrove.

Hereford lie sixth, eight points adrift of Whitchurch, and will want to shrug off their 20-0 loss at Sutton Coldfield in their last action of the year.

Meanwhile, Whitchurch Seconds host their Widnes counterparts on Saturday in the Sale Sharks division two south as they look to resume their mini-revival which was blocked shortly before the Christmas break.

The Reds’ second string were unable to raise a side in their final clash of 2018 despite having record victories in the weeks before.

Whitchurch’s third team are away to Bowdon Thirds in Manchester on Saturday.

They are away to Bowdon Thirds in the Howell and Co division four south.

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