March 1 2017
This weekend the plum fixture in the English Championship is Yorkshire Carnegie versus London Irish at Headingley Carnegie stadium on Sunday at 3p.m. The game is being shown on Sky TV. An opportunity for both teams to show the nation what they are about.
This game is meaningless in the context of who gets to the play-offs. Both teams should be in the last 4 in May. However London Irish put down a marker early in the season. The club is unbeaten in the league. It heads the table by 15 points after 15 rounds of the competition. It is the team to beat and no-one has managed that yet.
Yorkshire Carnegie gives the impression of a club that is in danger of losing it's way. Recent back to back defeats against moderate opposition have left the team staring over the precipice. Is this the start of a mad rush down to mid-table or beyond? In our up and coming fixtures we have trips to Doncaster and Bedford - both games are eminently losable on our current form and they are at grounds where we have had mixed fortunes in the past.
The club has announced further re-inforcements to the squad this week with the recruitment, on loan until the end of the season, of prop Matt Beasley and flyhalf Tom Catterick. We now have 9 props in the squad (if the official website is to believed) and 3 flyhalves. Clearly we are having issues with injuries to props and, it would seem, to our 10s. Observers have noted that Joe Ford is carrying a knock which begs the question - who will start at 10 on Sunday? The management have kept Warren Seals away from the 10 shirt in league games. Has TC been brought in to step straight into the 1st XV? We will know on Friday.
One thing I am sure of is that the forwards' contest will be critical to the eventual outcome on Sunday. If the Exiles get as much ball as Jersey did in the first half last week then they will be out of sight by the break. If we get our share of the ball, and use it wisely, then we can make it a competetive game. Whoever starts at 10 must take all the points on offer. I suspect that some of our players will up their game against the Irish. If they do the final margin of victory/defeat could be as little as one score making every kick at goal crucial.
Having given this game some considerable thought I can see a number of outcomes. The one I prefer to dwell on is a close, hard-fought match which is won by less than one score. I note that I am only the third prediction leaguer to forecast a home win but I have a feeling in my waters that we can upset the form books and sneek a win. You heard it here first.