WEST Hartlepool may be out of the promotion picture – but that does not mean their season is over.
The Brinkburn side are looking to complete a double over Huddersfield YMCA, who have beaten them to North One East’s play-off spot.
West visit Laund Hill tomorrow in a game which has plenty of pride at stake for Iain Dixon and Peter Robinson’s team.
Huddersfield YMCA are guaranteed second spot and will face a play-off with the runners up in North One West.
West have third place to strive for and currently hold a one-point lead over Rochdale.
“We want to finish as high in the table as we can and that’s third,” said director of rugby Kevan Oliphant, who is looking for a reaction following the abject 6-3 defeat to bottom club Sheffield last time out.
“We’d love to turn over one of the top teams on their ground.
“I’ve said it before that we are more than a match for any team in this league on our day.
“But we will have to turn up which we clearly did not do in our last game
“If we are to win tomorrow our motivation level is going to have to be high.
“We have beaten them once already so we know we can compete with them but we have got to go out there with the right attitude.”
West will have their work cut out tomorrow.
Since losing their opening home match of the season, 22-20 to Northern, YMCA have won nine in a row at Laund Hill.
The Tykes have conceded only 97 points on their own turf, leaving what would appear to be something of a mission impossible for West.
But Oliphant said: “We have the ability to do it.
“We beat them comfortably at home, 30-19, and given they have been one of the best teams this season that’s a very good result.
“But they are the form team in the division, it’s not long since they won at Cleckheaton.
“We are going to have to be at our best.”
West are going to have to up their game massively following their defeat to Sheffield in a match which saw no tries scored and a paltry nine points, the league’s basement outfit sneaking home by two kicks to one.
“Sheffield had a lot of different faces to the side we beat down there,” Oliphant explained. “They’ve recruited very well and I think they have a chance of staying up.
“That’s a blip for us, given how good our form has been at Brinkburn.
“But we can’t complain, we never looked like scoring and they deserved the win.
“Even though YMCA are guaranteed second, I think they’ll be motivated.
“I don’t expect them to be resting people or chopping and changing.
“I’m sure they’ll want to maintain their form and go into their promotion play-off with their consistency intact.
“We have third place to go for and while this is the toughest of our four matches left, we have shown we can beat them but we need the best attitude.”
West have restored Colin Cheslin to the starting XV with Luke Mallinson moving to the bench.
Up front, Ian Pinchen returns at prop with Jack Angus, a member of the Durham side who reached the County U20 Shield final, joining Mallinson among the subs.
There is a further alteration in the front row, where regular replacement, Andrew Dixon gets a rare start with Andrew Rollins unavailable due to work commitments.
Making up the front row trio is Andrew Dixon, who as recovered from a knock in the defeat to Sheffield.
Skipper Dan Boatman, who damaged his shoulder in the home defeat to Cleckheaton last month, returns to the squad but must be content with a spot on the bench.
Elder brother, Jonny, retains the captaincy, and lines up alongside Alex Barker and Sam Miller another West player to collect a silver medal in the County Shield final defeat to Surrey.
West: C Cheslin, S Butcher, A Cheslin L Bailey, P Youll, S Waites, R Painter, I Pinchen, A Dixon, A Coates, M Hogan, O Bennett, A Barker, J Boatman (capt), S Miller. Subs: J Angus, D Boatman, L Mallinson