On paper West Hartlepool should be facing their easiest game of the season when bottom club Sheffield visit Brinkburn.
The home side have only lost once at home all season and that was an undeserved reverse against runaway leaders Cleckheaton.
However, Sheffield arrive as one of the form sides in the division after parting company with head coach Ben Wade. They’ve won five out of their last seven games and now find themselves nine points adrift of safety with a maximum of 25 points still to play for.
Defeat at Brinkburn would almost certainly end their hopes and West coach Iain Dixon is expecting a tough time.
“They’re fighting for their lives,” he said. “If they can beat us it would give the some hope of beating the drop, and we will be in for a hard game.
“It wasn’t easy when we won at Sheffield back in November, when we started the game in bright sunshine and ended it in a monsoon, so we know they have some players who can score tries and make things difficult for us.”
West won that first game 20-8 with a Jonny Boatman score late in the second half and he will lead the side this week in the continued absence of brother Danny who has a shoulder injury.
West will also be missing prop Ian Pinchen who scored against Wheatley Hills last week and in comes 19 year old Jack Angus for a deserved start after some excellent performances from the bench.
Ryan Painter returns at scrum half, with Colin Cheslin returning to his customary role of full back in a West back division which made a major contribution to last weeks’ six try haul against Wheatley Hills.
Dixon says: “There’s no doubt firmer pitches suit us better as we also have a mobile pack. Peter Robinson has been puttying in a lot of set piece work with the pack in the last few weeks, and that paid off against a big Wheatley Hills pack last week.
“We we will be looking for that same kind of platform against Sheffield.
“There is now competition for places right across the team, and that means none of the players can afford to take it easy because there’s someone wanting a game.”
West: Colin Cheslin, Scott Butcher, Andrew Cheslin, Liam Bailey, Peter Youll, Stu Waites, Ryan Painter, Jack Angus, Andrew Rollins, Adam Coates, Michael Hogan, Owen Bennett, Alex Barker, Jon Boatman [c], Sam Miller. Reps: Andrew Dixon, Luke Mallinson, Jay Corbett.