Luctonians aiming for two more wins - Davidson

Lucts v Sedge
Alex Davidson is targeting two more wins for his Luctonians side
©Glenn Hutton

Director of Rugby Alex Davidson says his Luctonians side need two more victories before they can ‘relax’ in National Two North.

The Lucts are on an incredible run of nine wins from their last 12 games which has seen them move out of the relegation zone and into mid-table.

“We are on a terrific run and it’s now important we focus on achieving 60 points,” he said.

“Last season, we really had to fight to stay up and it went to the final day. I was confident that we wouldn’t be in that position this time around.

“However, come November, I was panicking a bit because it was a mirror image of last year, but we have put it right sooner with this run. Now, if we get another two wins in the coming weeks then I think we can relax in the final six games of our season.”

Davidson admits that it took his side a while to adjust to new coaching methods after a nail-biting finish to the 2014/15 season, which he is determined to avoid this term.

The Luctonians won just one of their first 10 games of this campaign, but since then, they have been one of the form sides in the division picking up some impressive wins including away victories against Harrogate, Preston Grasshoppers and Tynedale over the last three weeks.

“We have a huge amount of guys that are involved in agriculture due to us being from a very rural place are our attendance in pre-season was pretty poor,” Davidson added.

“I think that played a part in our slow start to the season, but also, we changed our defensive system in the summer. A lot of the guys “didn’t get it” at first because we weren’t giving it enough time.

“But that suddenly came right and settled at the beginning of this run in November. It just took a while for some of the boys to get up to speed with it.

“We stopped leaking points and that gave us the confidence to go up the other end and start scoring and that was the major change.”

The Luctonians’ opponents this weekend are Broadstreet who are 15th in the table and find themselves 10 points from safety.

Davidson wants the Luctonians not to underestimate the Midlands side as he recognises that there is only four points separating his team and the relegation zone heading into this Saturday’s clash.

“We have to stay focused on each game. We won’t be changing our preparation for Broadstreet this weekend just because we are higher than them in the table,” added Davidson.

“We are nowhere near safe just yet so if we can perform over the next two weeks against Broadstreet and Huddersfield then we can then relax. I say ‘relax’ through semi-gritted teeth, but I am confident we can get the job done.

“Broadstreet are fighting for their lives. They have a big set of forwards and the whole team is well drilled, so we’ll be looking to move them around again.

“Where we get our advantage from is being able to spread the ball wide and getting quick ball as much as we can so we will aim to do that on Saturday.”

Elsewhere in National Two North this weekend, league leaders Macclesfield face a tough trip to Leicester Lions while Sedgley Park will be hoping for a less stressful home match when Chester visit Park Lane on Saturday.

Their promotion rivals Stourbridge travel to Tynedale while Caldy go to Harrogate. Down at the bottom, Huddersfield and Sale FC clash in a huge relegation encounter while South Leicester and Sandal will be doing all they can to move away from danger when they face Otley and Preston Grasshoppers.

Leicester Lions v Macclesfield

Leicester Lions are preparing to welcome league leaders Macclesfield to Westleigh Park on Saturday. The Lions are having a tremendous season after finishing 12th last campaign. Leicester sit fourth in the table and three points off a play-off spot heading into this encounter this weekend. They have also won four of their last five games and are the only side in National Two North that is yet to beaten at home.

So, this will be Leicester Lions’ toughest test so far on home soil as Macclesfield visit the Midlands. The table toppers lead the way by 18 points and still have two games in hand meaning it is certainly theirs to lose as things stand. Macc have won their last six matches and have lost just twice away from Priory Park all season as Giles Heagerty’s men look to tighten their grip further on the title.

Sedgley Park v Chester

Sedgley Park showed great character last weekend to score three tries in the last seven minutes to snatch a victory at home to Otley. The second placed side after faulted in recent weeks leaving them with a huge mountain to climb in the title race, but that win last Saturday has breathed new life into their promotion ambitions. Sedge are two points clear of third placed Stourbridge, but they do have two games in hand so a 16th win of the season on the weekend will keep them in control of their own fate and keep them in control of the play-off spot.

As for Chester, they currently sit eighth in the table in what has been a below-par season for the men from Hare Lane. After finishing fifth last campaign, there were high hopes for the Cheshire side heading into the new term, but that has failed to materialise. Chester have won 10 of their 24 matches this season and are on a run of just two wins from their last five games. They suffered a narrow defeat to Tynedale six days ago so Chester will want to bounce back with a seventh away win of the season on Saturday.

Tynedale v Stourbridge

That win over Chester last Saturday was vital for a Tynedale side that have found life tough after relegation from National One. They have failed to get going this season (which hasn’t been helped by the floods that hit the country at the end of 2015) and currently, they lie 11th in the table, three points clear of the drop. Tyne have won only one of their last five games and know that this will be a tough task against Stourbridge on Saturday as they aim to distance themselves further from the bottom three.

In contrast, Stourbridge are having a fine season. After a difficult campaign last year due to injuries, Stour are looking like they are back to their best as they occupy third spot in the division. They have been in the promotion mix for some time now, but know because Sedgley Park have those two games in hand, that they must keep on winning and Stour come into this game against game in the north-east having won three on the spin. They can they make it four?

Harrogate v Caldy

Two of the top sides from last season faceoff in Yorkshire this weekend as Harrogate welcome Caldy to Ruddling Lane. It has been a mixed campaign for Harrogate who have not hit the heights of last term, but they are currently going through their best form of the season so far. Three wins in their last four sees ‘Gate in seventh place in the table and a 13th victory over the season on Saturday would go a long way to securing a top half finish.

It has been more of the same for Caldy this season. A top six finish last campaign looks to have been bettered this term as the Wirral side lie fifth in the table and 11 points clear of Harrogate. Caldy have flirted with the play-off place on more than one occasion this year, but have failed to get the necessary results when they have needed them most. They are only six points behind Sedgley Park, but it looks too much of an ask for Caldy to achieve that. However, a third placed finish is a more of a realistic target and one that isn’t out of Caldy’s reach.

Otley v South Leicester

Otley were left shell-shocked last weekend at Park Lane as they saw an 18 point lead disappear in a flash against Sedgley Park. They must now pick themselves up and dust themselves down as they prepare to welcome South Leicester to Cross Green. Otley are sixth in the table having won 13 games this season and head into this clash with South on a run of three wins from their last four. Otley have lost just three times at home this campaign which is the third lowest in the league so they will be hoping their excellent record in front of their own supporters continues this weekend as they look to nail down a top six finish.

The flip side to that is the season which South Leicester are currently enduring. After winning, National Three Midlands last season, South have found life tough in the fourth tier of English rugby. They have been in and around the drop zone for most of this campaign and as it stands, they are just two points clear of the bottom three. Their draw last weekend against relegation rivals Sale FC didn’t help them too much, although they did comeback from 21 points down. They have lost just two of their last five games and they will be aiming to add another ‘W’ to that sequence of results on Saturday.

Sandal v Preston Grasshoppers

Sandal are in trouble as things stand. After being the surprise package at the start of the season by winning six of their first eight games following promotion via the National Three North play-off, the Yorkshire side have now won just one of their last nine matches. This has led to them slipping from fifth down to 12th in the table and now they are only two points clear of the relegation zone. They need to halt this slide soon, otherwise it could become fatal.

Preston Grasshoppers have gone the opposite way to Sandal since the beginning of 2016. The Hoppers find themselves ninth in the table and six points clear of the drop mainly thanks to a seven game unbeaten run which they went on. Now, Garth Dew’s men will be eager to recapture that form as they travel to Milnethorpe Green on the back of four straight defeats. They will be hoping to capitalise on a Sandal side struggling for confidence as they look to arrest their poor recent run.

Huddersfield v Sale FC

This clash between Huddersfield and Sale FC is massive. Both sides sit in the bottom three and are fighting for their National Two North survival.  At the foot of the table is Huddersfield who currently find themselves 21 points adrift of safety with seven games left to play. A 19th defeat of the season on Saturday won’t relegate ‘Field, but the men from Lockwood Park will have to produce the greatest of escapes if they are to turn this around.

As for Sale FC, they saw a 21 point lead slip away from them against South Leicester last weekend which could prove vital come the end of the season. A win in that game would’ve seen Sale move out of the relegation zone, but instead they still find themselves two points from safety in 14th place. The majority of Sale’s points have come at home this term meaning they have won just once away from Heywood Road all season. That is the joint lowest in the league alongside Huddersfield and they will know they must double that tally on Saturday if they are to keep in touch with their relegation rivals.

National League Rugby