Teams target positive end to 2015 in National Two North

Huddersfield will be hoping for an early Christmas present when they take on Braodstreet down at the bottom
©Huddersfield RUFC

It was confirmed last weekend that Macclesfield will be top at Christmas so the teams below will also be hoping to be in high spirits after this final weekend of the National Two North year.

Sedgley Park will not be gifting Macc any points before we break for Christmas while the likes of Stourbridge, Sandal, Caldy and even Leicester Lions will be hoping to be in a jolly mood come Saturday evening as they look to maintain their positions at the right end of the table.

Elsewhere, the Luctonians and Preston Grasshoppers will want it to be a December to remember as they look to move away from the relegation zone while the other teams in the bottom half will just be wanting a victory before Christmas.

Macclesfield v Sale FC

Macclesfield are a club that are really looking to progress. After relegation from National One last season, the Blues are hoping for an immediate return to the third tier of English rugby and they’re showing signs that they are capable of achieving that goal.

After a defeat to Stourbridge on the opening day of the season, the Cheshire club managed to string some solid results together. They won 11 straight games before suffering their first home loss of the season in the top of the table fixture against Sedgley Park two weeks ago, but Giles Heagerty’s men got their title ambitions back on track with a win against Chester last Saturday.

Sale FC are enjoying their season so far. After promotion from National Three North, there seems to be a positive attitude around the north-west club  at the moment as they are producing some good results.

They currently sit ninth in the table and nine points clear of the relegation zone. As good as Sale have been, nearly all of their points have come at home where they have won five games this season. On their travels, it is a different story as they have picked up one win in six matches and their next away task this weekend is sure to be their toughest test yet.

Preston Grasshoppers v Sedgley Park

Preston Grasshoppers are down towards the wrong end of the table, but three wins in their last four games has propelled them up to 11th and they still have a game in hand.

Garth Dew’s men were in a relegation fight throughout the campaign last season and he will be hoping his side can steer themselves further away from trouble beginning with this weekend’s home match against Sedgley Park.

Sedgley Park are having a contrasting season. They are currently second in the league and are targeting promotion to National One. 

They weren’t in action last weekend due to a waterlogged pitch postponing their game against Caldy, but Sedge can close the gap down to as little as three points at the top of the table if they secure their 11th win of the season and their fifth away victory at Lightfoot Green on Saturday.

Stourbridge v Luctonians

Stourbridge are one of the sides that have constantly improved in the first half of this season. The Midlands club, who finished 10th last term, seem to have built a squad with plenty of room for progression and development and that has been on show on the pitch.

Last weekend’s unexpected 13-10 away defeat to Sale FC leaves Stour in third place, but eight points behind Sedgley Park who do have a game in hand. Despite this, confidence will still be high in the camp as that was their second defeat in nine matches.

The Luctonians are struggling down at the bottom of the table as they did last season. The Lucts survived the drop on the final day of the campaign and it appears they may well be in another relegation fight once again.

However, having won just one of their first 10 matches, the Herefordshire side may have turned a corner as they have now won their last three games which leaves them just a point off safety.  Their second away win of the season would certainly be an early Christmas present for a confident Luctonians side.

Otley v Sandal

Otley are currently seventh in the table. A lack of consistency has held the side back on a couple of occasions this season, but the men from Cross Green will feel capable of stringing some good results together and taking themselves as high as they can this season.

After four straight wins, the O’s have suffered three defeats in a row which leaves them 15 points behind the top two places. Otley have won three games at home this season and will be hoping to give their supporters some Christmas cheer as they look to end their recent bad recent run.

Sandal seem to be pushing for a play-off spot this season, but they will be the first to tell you that their main priority is to stay in the division after promotion via the National Three North playoff.  They have surprised everyone with the way they have performed in the first half of this campaign and they now look like they will finish in the top half at the very least.

Back to back wins against Tynedale and South Leicester was the perfect response by Sandal after picking up just one victory in their five previous games so they’ll be hoping to maintain their winning ways this Saturday.

Caldy v Chester

Caldy are hoping to pull themselves into contention for a shot at the play-off place this season. The Wirral side managed to finish sixth last season, but were a mammoth 47 points off the top two after Hull Ionians and Ampthill & District ran away with the title race.

This time around, they currently sit fifth as we approach the half-way point of the season, but it’s fair to say that performances from Caldy haven’t been great of late. They were winless in their last five games before last weekend - when they triumphed over Huddersfield - so they will now feel that can be the springboard for them to gather momentum into the New Year.

Chester seem to be struggling this campaign. Despite finishing a place higher than Caldy last season, the men from Hare Lane currently occupy 10th place after just six wins from their 14 matches thus far.

Their win two weeks ago against Sale FC is the only highlight Chester have had over the last five games, but they have won the joint second highest amount of away matches this season (4) which shows what Chester are truly capable of.

South Leicester v Leicester Lions

Expect no Christmas spirit on show for 80 minutes at Welford Road this weekend as Leicester Lions take the six mile journey to take on neighbours South Leicester.

The Lions are enduring one of their most fruitful seasons in their recent history. Despite finishing eight points off the relegation zone last season, the men from Westleigh Park find themselves in sixth place as win last Saturday against Broadstreet leaves them five points outside the top three.

Leicester Lions may be starting to wonder how far they can go this season after such a vast improvement from last year. Their players seem to be rejuvenated and if they were to end 2015 with their ninth win of the campaign, it will be a very happy Christmas for the Lions

South Leicester’s season appears to be taking a dip following a relatively decent start to life in National Two North.  After promotion from National Three Midlands, the club’s aim was to stay in the fourth tier of English rugby.

So far they are doing just that. They do occupy 12th in the table, but it’s fair to say South have struggled of late having suffered four straight defeats. They weren’t in action last weekend due their game being postponed, but they’ll be hoping to put this bad form to bed as they look for their fourth home win of the season in this derby match.

Tynedale v Harrogate

Tynedale are surprisingly battling against the drop from National Two North this season. Having been relegated from National One last term, Tyne look set for another fight to stay in a division.

The north-east side may have been expected to challenge for promotion after their relegation, but instead they are languishing just a point above the bottom three having won just four of their 13 games this term.  

To be fair, the club have had bigger issues to worry about with their pitch being flooded due to the recent terrible weather, but in terms of the playing aspect of the game, Tyne need to hope 2016 is a better year for them.

Harrogate will be travelling to Newcastle Falcons’ Kingston Park for this fixture to play on their synthetic surface because Corbridge is still out of action and the Yorkshire come to the north-east as a club that has been inconsistent this year.

After finishing fourth last season, Harrogate may have felt they could come out of the shadow of the teams above them and have a real go at promotion to National One, but that hasn’t been the case.

With seven wins to their name this season, they are 17 points off the top two and eight behind the top four. ‘Gate have won three of their away games this campaign and with a win here, they can end 2015 on a positive note.

Broadstreet v Huddersfield

Broadstreet are once again involved in a ‘bottom two’ battle this season and this time they take on Huddersfield. With just four wins to their name this term, Street will be disappointed to find themselves in the relegation zone after finishing seventh last season.

As things stand, Broadstreet are 15th, but there are small signs that they can dig themselves out of this hole which is exactly what they did last season at this stage. With a few strong results, they could launch themselves out of the drop zone but that must start by beating their relegation rivals this Saturday.

Huddersfield have really failed to capitalise on their impressive season last year. ‘Field were promoted alongside Broadstreet last season with both sides finishing in the top half. Now, Huddersfield are bottom of National Two North after suffering 10 defeats this campaign.

Heavy defeats against Caldy and Preston Grasshoppers leaves them five points from safety so they need to turn their fortunes around quickly. What isn’t promising for Huddersfield is that they have lost all six of their away matches this season.

National League Rugby