March 14 2017
This weekend there is the promise of a feast of rugby. As well as being able to watch old boy Danny Care strutting his stuff in Dublin Yorkshire Carnegie fans can head down the A1 to Castle Park where the lads are playing Doncaster Knights in the Championship run in.
The squad goes into this game on the back of a 4 match losing streak. You would have thoiught then that morale is rock bottom. However as 2 of the 4 defeats came against London Irish and the last one was in the B&I Cup then perspective comes into play. OK so the home defeat against Pirates was a shock and the loss on Jersey less so but I think that the outcome will be that any complacency in the collective psyche will have gone. Evidence of that could be seen in the league game against LI at Headingley. Indeed such was the intensity of the performance (for a full 80 minutes) that it could be said that the two previous defeats had brought a positive benefit.
There are now a maximum of 8 games to be played this season. If the club management only do one thing this week it should be to emphasise that what has gone before is irrelevant and that everything we aspire to can be achieved in those coming 8 games.
Donny this weekend will be a tough challenge but not an impossible one. If we play as we did as LI at Headingley we will prevail. My main concern is the injury situation. Are either Joe Ford or Tom Catterick fit? If not then who will start at 10? We will need to put out our best pack at Castle Park. If Richard Beck is fit he should start at 6 with Ollie Stedman on the bench, coming on as an impact player for the last 30 minutes. Mayhew gets my vote for the openside slot. Perm any two from Smith, Myerscough and West to fill the second row. Phil Nilsen is being pushed hard for the 2 shirt by Mayhew. He is, however, playing some of his best rugby at the moment and deserves to start on Sunday.
For me this weekend's game is the last big test of the regular season. If we can get a result at Donny then we will be at least 11 points in front of them with 3 games left. Ealing are right on their tails and will fancy getting third place as Donny still have to go to Cornwall and entertain both Jersey and London Irish. As long as we finish second or third then our plan to swat LI over the 2-legged final remains do-able however remote the chances appear at the moment.