Midlands 1 West preview


v Whitchurch

Whitchurch put their winning streak on the line when they make Saturday’s testing trip to promotion-chasing Newbold-on-Avon in the Midlands 1 West.

Lying third after five straight wins, the Reds have every right to feel confident ahead of their biggest challenge of the year against their Warwickshire hosts.

And they will have a score to settle after Newbold – who lie second and nine points above – ran out narrow 13-10 victors when the sides met at Edgeley Park back in October.

Since losing that game, the Reds have been in a rich vein of form – winning 10 of their last 11 outings, with their one defeat coming against league leaders Bromsgrove.

Should they prevail this weekend, then they would move to within one win of Newbold, but coach Scott Sturdy knows his side’s defensive resolve will again be put to the test.

“It going to be a challenge, but when we played them at home it was definitely a game we could have won,” he said.

“To come away disappointed to lose against a side who were top of the table at the time shows we have come a long way.

“They rocked up expecting to put 40 or 50 points past us, but in the end we were left thinking what could have been.

“They were a very big team, very physical and aggressive, but defensively we were outstanding in terms of workrate, energy and putting bodies on the line. We could take a lot of positives.”

Tight defence has underpinned the Reds’ fine run of form that has seen them concede just six points (two penalties) in winning their four games since the turn of the year.

After defeating Moseley Oak 17-0 in their last action a fortnight ago, the Reds had the chance to regroup with a weekend off before gearing up for Saturday’s Newbold showdown.

With the number of players missing this season, the strength of the Whitchurch squad has been put to the test – and has come through with flying colours.

“We have now developed a strong and also a very versatile squad, which has been a key to our success,” added Sturdy.

Newbold’s form has been mixed of late, losing 41-15 at Stoke before winning their last two outings to keep a grip of second spot.

However, a Whitchurch victory this weekend would certainly increase the pressure on their Warwickshire hosts who are trailing leaders Bromsgrove by six points.

After winning 14 of their 18 games this season, the Edgeley Park men are already looking good for a top four finish having opened up a 17-point gap on fifth placed Old Halesonians.