League leaders Huddersfield face Burnage on the unfamiliar territory of a 4g pitch, in a crucial fixture this weekend.
Third placed Sale have already lost on the artificial turf this season, as ‘Field are well aware of how the pitch will influence the game.
Manager Lee Paxman said: “For us it’s a step into the unknown. The surface will be a world away from the heavy Lockwood Park pitch.
But in preparation, ‘Field have trained on a similar pitch this week, as they hope to maintain their perfect away record.
Paxman said: “The surface will be harder, so the ball has a tendency to spill out, hopefully if we can control the ruck area and build some tempo, the fast surface will play into the hands of our fast outside backs.
As well as the pitch, ‘Field will have to watch out for the kicking game of Ross Winney. Having also played at Macclesfield and Wakefield, Winney boasts an impressive CV, including England representation in several junior age groups, as well as caps for England Students, England Counties and Barbarians.
Now a key figure to Burnage, he adds a strong kicking game for the hosts and will look to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Winney missed the reverse fixture at Lockwood Park, but ‘Field know what an influential figure he is.
Paxman said: “They’ve got a good pack and with Winney playing an experienced kicking game they’re a real threat. They have only lost once at home, so we know that this a tough place it is to travel to.
That only defeat came against Sandal, who also beat Rossendale last week, so ‘Field know how important these away fixtures could be, come the end of the season.
‘Field will want to maintain their impressive away form with another win this weekend, in the last fixture before the Christmas break.
Huddersfield’s Falcons also have a tough home game against Sheffield. Injuries mean that the sides have been reshuffled to put the best possible 15 out for both teams. Currently second in the division, a win would move the Falcons back to top spot just in time for Christmas.
‘Field’s Academy also have a game this Sunday against Old Brodlians. A victory for themselves would mean they are top of their division over the Christmas period.
With three out of the four senior teams occupying top place in their division, there are very encouraging signs at Huddersfield, but they know the hard work has to continue.
Paxman said “It would be great to get to Christmas with all four sides top of the league. This will only come with four massive performances this weekend before the Christmas break.”
First XV to face Burnage:
1. Alex Battye
2. Ben Morrill
3. Anthony Stringwell
4. Gavin Rhodes
5. Nick Rhodes
6. Robert Sykes
7. Ben Hoyle
8. Nick Sharpe (c)
9. Joel Hinchliffe
10. Giles Hetherington
11. Michael Clark
12. Tom Owen
13. Ben Mitchell
14. Elliot Hodgson
15. Tom Hodson
16. Edward Birkhead
17. Ross Thornton
18. William Brian