RUGBY PREVIEW: Driffield v West Hartlepool

RULED OUT: Sam Miller, in action for West against Horden at Brinkburn. Picture by TOM COLLINS
RULED OUT: Sam Miller, in action for West against Horden at Brinkburn. Picture by TOM COLLINS

TOP try scorer Sam Miller has been ruled out West Hartlepool’s North One East trip to Driffield tomorrow.

West head to Kelleythorp tomorrow when they will be looking to pick up where they left off against Horden last weekend (kick-off 3pm).

However, Miller, who touched down in the 22-15 derby victory has been ruled out with an ankle problem.

It is a blow for West who have been forced into making six changes to the winning XV.

Miller hobbled off in the first half last week but returned after the break, finishing a pack pushover from a line-out for the third try.

The 20-year-old, who scored a late try in West’s smash and grab win at Driffield back in March, trained at Dyke House last night but after a check over by physio Michael Geritz, he was pulled out of the squad.

Chairman of rugby Graeme Southern said: “Sam was injured last week and while he trained last night, it wasn’t right.

“We’re taking a long-term view and thinking ‘why take a risk for one game’.”

The same philosophy could also apply to Stuart Waites.

The leading points scorer and talisman had suffered a painful shoulder injury at Northern a fortnight ago and hoped to return tomorrow at the scene of his heroics last season, when he kicked the winning penalty with the final kick of the match.

But West may opt to give him an extra week to recover.

West have been forced into a raft of changes with Ian Pinchen, Alex Barker and Chris Atkins all unavailable.

Jack Angus, who started the season at prop, returns in the front row while young prospect Luke Chapman comes in to join Owen Bennett in the second row.

Joe Rafferty switches from lock to be part of a totally new-look back row.

Dan Boatman has completed his one-game suspension while Jordan Baggs, who showed up well last week at both ends of the park, joins him in the breakaway unit.

In the backs, Liam Bailey is unavailable but West have the luxury of having Andrew Foreman at their disposal.

A derby victory certainly lifted morale after back-to-back defeats had put the side in the wrong half of the table.

West are eighth after four wins from seven games and they should make it five at an out-of-sorts Driffield.

The East Yorkshire outfit started the campaign as they finished last season and picked up 10 points from the first three weekends.

But they have lost four on the spin, conceding 129 points in the process, losing at home to Northern last weekend.

If West play to their potential they will be confident of repeating their success at Kelleythorp last season.

But head coach Iain Dixon says West need to sharpen up in the attacking areas – last week they had a number of gilt-edged chances and glorious attacking positions but only emerged with three tries, all from rolling mauls.

“Our precision has been kind of wayward this season,” said the head coach.

“We need to get back on top of that.

“When we are disciplined and follow the patterns in the correct manner then that’s when sides struggle against us.

“But when we don’t play with accuracy then that’s when we struggle.

“We’ve had some good training sessions and the precision and patterns are coming.

“We’re probably a couple of weeks behind where we should be really, we’ve had to contend with injuries and a lot of changes.

“But we’re getting there.”

West: L Mallinson, K Jamieson, P Youll, A Foreman, S Butcher, Z Southern, R Painter, J Angus, A Rollins, A Coates, L Chapman, O Bennett, J Rafferty, D Boatman (capt), J Baggs. Subs (from): R Wood, G Jackson, A Phillips, S Waites