National Two North Preview - Round 16

Stockport will be looking for a change in fortune in the reverse fixture this weekend
Stockport will be looking for a change in fortune in the reverse fixture this weekend
©Glenn Hutton

I am sure Hull Ionians along with Ampthill and District will be having a very Merry Christmas with both sides flying in this division in what has become a two horse race for the title. The battle for third and fourth continues with just six points separating third and seventh whilst no Christmas cheer will be shared out amongst the sides who are fighting for their survival in this division.

Hull Ionians v Hull
With just 11 miles separating the two rugby clubs that could well be as close as the teams get to each other this season as they have had contrasting fortunes so far this campaign. The I’s are flying and currently sit top of the league on a nine game winning streak after their win last weekend against Huddersfield. They have lost just once in 31 matches in this division and have won their last 23 home matches in this league. As for Hull they are 14th with just one win in their last five games, but head into this Humberside derby having won three of their five away matches this season. Hull Ionians have won the last three meetings between the sides. The odds are firmly stacked against Hull, but Christmas miracles can happen…

Leicester Lions v Ampthill
Second placed Ampthill will certainly be hoping for a miracle at Brantingham Park if they have any chance of being top at Christmas, but know they have a job to do away at Leicester on Saturday. Ampthill have won their last four matches and have only dropped points on two occasions this season when they drew to Huddersfield and lost to Chester. Both were away from home, but Leicester know this will not be an easy task. The Lions ended a three game losing streak last weekend against bottom club Stockport and have won six of their eight home games this season. They currently sit ninth and were beaten by Ampthill earlier in the season.

Chester v Caldy
A battle between third and fourth as Chester host Caldy. Chester have had a tough few weeks after going on a six match winning run which propelled them into the top three. They now lost three of their last five matches after being beaten by Stourbridge 28-23 last Saturday, so will want something to smile about heading into the mid-season break. Chester have won seven of their eight matches at Hare Lane this season whilst Caldy have won just twice away from home all season. Their 100 per cent home record as seen them move into fourth and they have lost just once in their last seven games.  There has been two wins a piece between the sides over the last five years.

Harrogate v Huddersfield
Harrogate are on a good run of form which has seen them lose just once in seven games after they edged out the Luctonians last weekend. They welcome Huddersfield to the County Ground who put in a very positive performance against Hull Ionians six days ago. Harrogate have won their last seven home matches and have lost just once on home soil all season. As for Huddersfield they have won one of their last six games and have been victorious just twice on the road all season. This game ended in an 18-18 draw back in September.

Preston Grasshoppers v Otley
Preston Grasshoppers were tipped to finish in the higher positons in the table this season, but have found the first half of this campaign very tough. They did put in a good performance last weekend when they lost 10-0 to Caldy, but they currently sit 13th with just one win in their last five matches. They have also won just three matches at home this season, but welcome an Otley side to Lancashire that has had recent dip in form. They have lost four of their last seven which has seen them slip down to sixth in the table, but vitally, they did win last time out against Sedgley Park. Otley have won just twice all season away from home and did lose this reverse fixture 17-24 earlier in the season.

Sedgley Park v Stockport
It has been a roller-coaster season for Segdley so far. After a strong start to the season which, included a 10-85 win over Stockport, it looked as though they would be challenging Hull Ionians and Ampthill for the title, but they now find they themselves in seventh. They did lose to Otley last weekend, but they are just six points off third place. They host Stockport at Park Lane this weekend looking for their seventh home win of the season whilst Stockport still are yet to win on the road this season. They have won just once in 15 matches and sit bottom of the table. They have major injury problems in the first half of the season and do have a depleted squad for this Saturday’s game. A tough task again for Port.

Luctonians v Stourbridge
They may have the worst current form in the league at the minute, but the Luctonians showed real fight last weekend against Harrogate and deservedly came away with two losing bonus points. This weekend they welcome Stourbridge to Moritmer Park. The Luctonians have lost their last six matches and have won just twice at home all season. As for Stour, they have struggled with injuries all season, but are starting to find some form having lost just once in their last five matches. Their form away from home sees them with three wins to their name from eight matches, but they did win 27-18 against theLuctonians in September.

Broadstreet v Birmingham and Solihull
Both of these sides have shown big signs of improvement over the last few weeks, in particular Broadstreet, who have won four of their last five and performed superbly against Ampthill last weekend despite the defeat. Broadstreet have played just five games at home this season and won just two of them whereas Birmingham and Solihull have a much better record away from home then they do at Portway. The Bees have won four of their six matches on the road and are currently 12th in the league. They have put in some very good performances in recent weeks, but just haven’t managed to get the wins, but the signs are certainly there. Broadstreet won 36-38 in an enthralling contest between the teams earlier in the season.

National League Rugby