After last Saturday’s ‘white-out’ in which all the seven fixtures in our division were postponed it is hoped that as things seem to be getting back to normal weather-wise we will see all Saturday’s fixtures completed. Although, as I write, our area is threatened by a yellow alert from ‘The Pest from the West’ as it is being called.
The top game of the week has to be the table-top clash between Preston Grasshoppers and Harrogate which will be well worth travelling a few miles to see for anyone living at that side of the country. Both sides will be well up for this game and it is difficult to predict a winner. ‘Hoppers are flying high at the top with 18 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat and are on 91 points, ‘Gate are 15 points behind them with 15 wins 1 draw and 4 defeats but are on a seven match winning streak which they will want to continue. They had a tough game at Sandal two weeks ago where they conceded 5 tries while scoring the same number before winning 39-31. I think that the very professional approach that the ‘Hoppers have shown throughout the season will see them through this game but it could be very close.
Birkenhead Park v Wirral where 13th meet 7th in a local derby game should prove to be an away win as Park have had a very poor season, only winning 2 and drawing 1 of their games. Although Wirral have a very poor away record I think they will have enough in the tank to take a win in what could be another close game.
Our game at Ilkley will be covered in greater detail by Richard Gore but in a game where 9th entertain 3rd our side will be well aware that on February 10th Ilkley defeated Lymm by 21-3 at Stacks Field. They have not played since that day and may be either ring-rusty or raring to go and Hull will treat them with the respect they showed at Billingham and Lymm. I expect an away win but maybe a close one.
Kendal v Sandal in a game where 8th play 11th could go either way. Sandal have hit a bit of form lately with very good displays against Hull and Harrogate, picking up bonus points in both games, and they also won at Ilkley on February 2nd by 21-3. Kendal only lost to ‘Gate by 14-13 at Mint Bridge on January 27th and on their last home outing beat Morley by 22-0. They are tough to beat on their own ground and will do well to beat the improving Sandal side.
Kirkby Lonsdale v Billingham where 10th take on 5th could be an upset for Billingham who are getting used to playing on their all-weather pitch and could find the heavy Kirkby surface not to their liking. If the weather allows the game to be played I think Kirkby could spring an upset and probably kill off Billingham’s play-off hopes for the season.
Pocklington v Lymm sees 14th play 4th and on paper it should be an away win with extras. But Lymm will be well aware of Pock’s great show at home against ‘Hoppers on February 17th when they lost narrowly to ‘Hoppers by 25-17. However they could not repeat the same form the following week when they lost 17-10, again at home to Kirkby Lonsdale and I expect Lymm to win this one, but again it could be close.
Finally, we have Rossendale at home to Morley and all things considered I expect 6th-placed Ross to beat the 12th-placed Maroons with something to spare. Both sides have heavy pitches so that will not be an advantage either way but Morley have gone off the boil after their brief resurgence of form in January and early February and I can see nothing but a home win in this fixture.