Huddersfield RU will look to start 2017 with a bang as they head to Billingham on Saturday (kick off 2:15pm).
Gareth Lewis’ side will return to the league after a three-week Christmas break aiming to extend their 15-match unbeaten run in Durham, and the head coach knows that they can’t take their foot off the gas in the National North III fixture.
“The Christmas break has allowed the lads to refresh physically and mentally,” said Lewis. “They’ve had a couple of very tough conditioning sessions with Matt Green in the last week so they are now fully prepared for the challenge ahead.”
“We can’t afford to be complacent now and are fully aware the threat that Billingham pose. They have won four of their last five games and their back line is particularly dangerous. We must impose ourselves on the game early doors and take our chances when they arise.”
The Lockwood Park side ended 2016 in great fashion when they ran out 38-3 winners against Kendal, which included a wonder try from top try-scorer Elliot Hodgson – one that is up for England Rugby Union try of the month- and will be looking to maintain their 10-point gap ahead of second placed Rossendale.
They also go into the New Year fixtures with the best attacking team having scored 672 already, and the best defence only conceding 135 points over fifteen fixtures- averaging just nine points conceded a match.
However, the Field only have to look at the reverse fixture to see that Billingham aren’t to be taken lightly. Billingham put up a stern effort at Lockwood Park back in September when Lewis’ side ran out 34-12 winners thanks to two tries from Brandon Conway and a try apiece from Tom Owen and Chris Bell in one of the toughest challenges the league leaders have had to date.
Billingham now sit in 6th place, twenty points behind the league leaders Huddersfield, and pose just one less bonus point than the field, highlighting their attacking qualities.
They will also be spurned on after a 14-8 victory against Firwood Waterloo before the mid-season break where, despite having many players out injured, a late penalty try gave Billingham the four points.
Lewis has made some changes ahead of the big clash. Tom Owen returns from injury in the centres meaning Brandon Conway reverts back to the wing position.
Nick Sharpe also starts at No.8 with Adam Malthouse starting from the bench and Callum Thompson starts at loose head prop.
15. Lewis Workman
14. Danny Granger
13. Elliot Hodgson
12. Tom Owen
11. Brandon Conway
10. Chris Bell
9. Joel Hinchliffe
8. Nick Sharpe
7. Lewis Bradley
6. Ben Morrill
5. Austen Thompson
4. Nick Rhodes
3. Alex Battye (captain)
2. Fran Entresangle
1. Callum Thompson