By Ollie Mudd
All eyes turn to Lockwood park on Saturday as Huddersfield RU host league leaders Hull Ionians in what could be the most critical games of the National League 2 North season.
A win for Huddersfield could see them only 1 point shy of the top of the league with a game in hand, and all 5 points could see them pull level.
Despite defeat last week, Chester’s loss at Hinckley meant that Huddersfield moved into second, the playoff place, with a losing bonus point.
‘Field are looking to rectify their slip in form after losing to Wharfedale last time out. They battled valiantly after going down to 14 men and were unfortunate to concede the winner 6 minutes from time.
Ionians come to West Yorkshire in brutish form. They put 9 tries past south Leicester on Saturday, and the Huddersfield defence must be wary of the in-form full back Lewis Minikin and prop Benjamin Bell, who both grabbed hat tricks in the tie.
But Gareth Lewis urges his team to enjoy the occasion: “the lads have responded well in training to last week’s defeat and are looking forward to facing the top team in the league.
“At the end of the day who would’ve predicted we would get the opportunity to play in a top of the table clash in February?
“We have everything to gain and nothing to lose, and we intend to enjoy the afternoon.”
The tie promises to be an atmospheric affair with heart and high-quality rugby, and a game in which fantasies of promotion could be made or broken.
Tom Hodson and Lewis Workman return to their more familiar positions of late at full back and on the wing respectively. Joe Green rotates in for Jack Maplesden at scrum half as the final change expected in the backs.
The pack takes a different shape factoring in injury and suspension.
Experienced Mark Chivers replaces Fran Entressengle as hooker (Ribs), and Adam Blades returns to the front row as they both join Harry Whitfield.
Bob Sykes replaces Nick Sharpe in the back row and goes in at six alongside Lewis Bradley.
Lee Smith misses out after debuting last time out, Kian Stewart is unavailable after a concussion suffered against Wharfedale.
Tor Borrowdale, younger brother of Guy, will be among the replacements after signing on a dual registration from Yorkshire Carnegie.
Tom Hodson, Elliot Hodgson, Mark Pease, Will Milner, Lewis Workman, Chris Johnson, Joe Green; Harry Whitfield, Mark Chivers, Adam Blades, Matt Dunn, Guy Borrowdale, Bob Sykes, Lewis Bradley, Dickie Piper(c).
Reuben Pollard, Tor Borrowdale, Alex Battye, Tom Owen, Jack Maplesden.