By Brandon Reeves
Second plays third this weekend at Hare Lane in a potentially titanic clash between two of the league’s forerunners Chester and Huddersfield.
The Cheshire side are gunning for a top-two finish with four games remaining, as are the visitors Huddersfield, but Chester have a six-point gap to ‘Field in second making the win all the more pivotal.
Should the hosts win they will strengthen their hand in the promotion race, but should the men in third-place inflict a rare home defeat upon Chester then all bets will be off.
Back in December at Lockwood Park, Chester managed a physical match well and managed to come away with a narrow victory thanks to their stern defensive play.
Chester had the best defensive record in the league then and still do to this day, conceding a miserly 17 points per game on average.
However, Huddersfield have potentially returned to form at just the right time with two consecutive wins, including a devastating 91-24 win over South Leicester last week.
Head coach Gareth Lewis clearly relishes the prospect of Saturday’s match and believes the league is strong for days just like it:
“This weekend is an example of why the National Two North competition is so good. Chester had a great result at Fylde last week so they have put themselves in touching distance of a top two finish.
“They’re a good team and have an excellent defence. Chester have only lost once at home which poses a huge challenge. They were extremely physical in the game earlier in the season so we will need to be strong in the contact areas.
“However, we had a pretty good result ourselves, have hit some decent form again and can’t wait for Saturday. As a player these are the games you play for and I want to see what energy and emotion we can pour into this game.”
Lewis can welcome some experienced heads back into the side with Fran Entressengle, Adam Blades and Harry Whitfield all coming into a changed front row. Nick Sharpe returns from suspension at lock.
Kian Stewart will be away on Yorkshire under-20 duty so Arthur Wilkinson is set to deputise on the wing. Joe Green comes in for Jack Maplesden at scrumhalf. Mark Pease returns to the matchday squad on the replacements bench.
Huddersfield: Tom Hodson, Arthur Wilkinson, Lewis Workman, Will Milner, Elliot Knight, Chris Johnson, Joe Green; Harry Whitfield, Fran Entressengle, Adam Blades, Guy Borrowdale, Nick Sharpe, Harry Woodhouse, Lewis Bradley, Dickie Piper(C).
Replacements: Alex Battye, Reuben Pollard, Tor Borrowdale, Mark Pease, Elliot Hodgson.