Hinckley and Wharfedale will attempt to maintain their early season momentum in National Two North when the two sides clash in the Midlands this Saturday.
The clubs meet at Leicester Road after back to back bonus-point wins, but one or maybe both of their unblemished records will come to an end in Round Three.
Hull Ionians are also part of the trio of teams yet to drop points and they will be keen to collect another victory when they host newly promoted Peterborough Lions this weekend.
South Leicester and Chester are the only other sides who are unbeaten in the division and they both find themselves at home this Saturday as they host Sheffield Tigers and Leicester Lions, respectively.
Also, in National Two North, Fylde and Macclesfield meet in an all north-west affair, a few of last season’s promotion contenders will be looking to bounce back from defeats as Sedgley Park host Otley and Stourbridge face Tynedale while Preston Grasshoppers travel to Huddersfield after derby day success in Round Two.
Hinckley v Wharfedale
Two clubs with 100 per cent records clash in National Two North this weekend as Hinckley welcome Wharfedale to Leicester Road. The hosts are the early table toppers after excellent wins over Tynedale and Peterborough Lions and it seems as if George Chuter’s men are heading in the right direction after a fifth placed finish last term.
Big Game Saturday!!!— Hinckley_Rugby (@Hinckley_Rugby) September 13, 2018
Last week's match report. https://t.co/dws03gxxAW
Hinckley have scored 93 points in their first two fixtures, but they take on a Wharfedale side with the tightest defence in the division. Dale have shipped just 31 points in the opening rounds and that has helped them gain victories against Peterborough Lions and Sedgley Park. After fending off relegation for the last couple of seasons, this has been an excellent start for Rob Baldwin’s side so they will be travelling to the Midlands full of confidence. With both teams boasting perfect records, something has got to give this weekend.
Hull Ionians v Peterborough Lions
Along with Hinckley and Wharfedale, Hull Ionians are the only other side to pick up maximum points from their first two matches. The I’s suffered relegation from National One in April after a three-year stint at that level and if they have ambitions of immediately bouncing back to the third tier, they are certainly making all the right noises.
A narrow win over Sheffield Tigers was followed by a convincing victory against Tynedale last week and next up for the Yorkshire outfit is a home tie with newly promoted Peterborough Lions. Simon Moyle’s side have found it difficult in National Two North so far after back to back defeats to begin their time in this division, but there are positives for the Lions to take. In particular, their first half display against Hinckley in Round Two highlighted what the men from Bretton Woods are capable of and a victory against a side that has won their last 31 home matches in this division will certainly spark Peterborough Lions’ season into life.
South Leicester v Sheffield Tigers
They left it late, but it was derby day delight for South Leicester in Round Two. Tim Koster’s try secured the bragging rights for the men from Welford Road and their triumph over Leicester Lions also meant that South maintained their winning start to the new season. Last week’s victory wasn’t pretty, but the Midlands club will be delighted with the way they have begun the new campaign.
Next on their schedule is a home fixture with a Sheffield Tigers side who will be in a buoyant mood. After performing superbly on the opening day, but narrowly missing out on the victory against Hull Ionians, Jamie Broadley’s men powered to their first win of the season last Saturday as they comfortably beat possible promotion candidates Stourbridge at Dore Moor. The Tigers will now be aiming to translate that performance into this away clash as the Yorkshire outfit go in search of their first win on the road since March.
Chester v Leicester Lions
Chester are riding the crest of a wave at the moment and they will be oozing confidence when they entertain Leicester Lions this weekend. The Cheshire side made it two wins from two last Saturday as they edged past Macclesfield to add to their impressive opening day victory over Preston Grasshoppers.
In Round Three, they are back at Hare Lane - where they have won their last eight matches - and they host a Leicester Lions side desperate to kick start their season. Andy Key’s men have lost both of their opening fixtures and they are now without a competitive win since the middle of March. In total, it is a run of seven consecutive defeats for a Lions side that battled against relegation last term so the Midlands club will be keen to get off the mark as soon as possible.
Fylde v Macclesfield
Two years ago, Fylde against Macclesfield was a National One fixture, but fast-forward to 2018 and both sides now meet in the tier below. Macc were relegated in 2016/17 while in April of this year, Fylde joined them in National Two North and the Lancashire club may well be aiming to bounce straight back up.
A solid victory against Otley on the opening day was the perfect start for Warren Spragg’s side, but a derby day defeat to newly promoted Preston Grasshoppers last time out just highlighted how tough this division is. Macclesfield are more than aware of the strength of this league and after an excellent second half of last season, the Blues will be disappointed to have lost both of their first two fixtures against South Leicester and Chester, respectively. Marshall Gadd will now be hoping for a reaction when his side travel to Woodlands this Saturday.
Sedgley Park v Otley
They knew they were going to be in for a tough encounter last weekend and that proved to be the case for Sedgley Park against Wharfedale. Last year’s runners-up failed to click into gear at the Avenue and fell to a 26-19 defeat against Dale in Round Two.
Matt Bebbington’s men are still one of the main contenders for promotion after such a brilliant season last term and they will be hoping to return to winning ways instantly when they host Otley on Saturday. This will be Sedge’s first home fixture of the new campaign and they have lost just one of their last 15 matches at Park Lane so Otley will be aware of the challenge ahead. However, the Yorkshire outfit will arrive in the North West with confidence after securing their first win of the season against Huddersfield and now they will be eyeing up a maiden victory away from home.
Stourbridge v Tynedale
Stourbridge and Tynedale were strong candidates to break into the top two last season and they may well have been setting their sights on another promotion push at the beginning of this campaign. However, both clubs have suffered setbacks in the opening two rounds with Stour’s progress halted by Sheffield Tigers last weekend.
Consistency evaded Neil Mitchell’s side at the wrong times last term so they will want to bounce back this Saturday. As for Tyne, they finished level on points with Stourbridge in 2017/18, but successive losses against Hinckley and Hull Ionians has not been the ideal start for Ben Woods and his side. Their tricky beginning to the season continues this weekend, but a win in the Midlands would be an excellent response by Tynedale.
Huddersfield v Preston Grasshoppers
Preston Grasshoppers take the trip to Huddersfield in Round Three on the back of a derby day victory against Fylde. Head coach Paul Arnold described the 18-15 win as a ‘tremendous effort’ from his side who reacted in the best possible way following a defeat to Chester on their return to National Two North and now the newly promoted outfit are aiming for consecutive wins.
Huddersfield boss Gareth Lewis highlighted this fixture against Preston Grasshoppers as an ‘important one’ as his side fell to a late defeat against Otley in Round Two. Field finished in a very credible sixth place last season after promotion from the fifth tier, but they have begun this term with two narrow losses. The Yorkshire club will be hoping their maiden victory of the new campaign can arrive this weekend in front of their own supporters at Lockwood Park.