RUGBY PREVIEW: Hartlepool BBOB v Hartlepool Rovers

BRIGADE LEADER: Former Rovers star Gareth Foreman
BRIGADE LEADER: Former Rovers star Gareth Foreman

HARTLEPOOL Rovers will not take Boys Brigade Old lightly when the clubs meet for the first time at senior level.

BBOB have home advantage at the Old Friarage – the original and historic Headland ground of Rovers before their move to West View Road after the war (kick-off 3pm).

Rovers start the Durham Intermediate Cup first round tie as clear favourites even though there were only 10 rungs on the league ladder separating the neighbours at the end of last season.

However, there is some difference between the first and second tiers of the Durham Northumberland leagues.

And Rovers, from Division One, will look to make that count tomorrow though coaches Graham Puckrin and Carl Robinson say they are taking absolutely nothing for granted.

Boys Brigade Old Boys don’t have anything to lose and the side coached by three former Rovers favourites, Gareth Foreman, Andrew Lilley and Darren Smith, will relish the challenge.

BBOB have enjoyed two seasons of stunning success under the triumverite and Robinson says they are full of respect for their hosts.

“Brigade have done really well over the last couple of years,” he told SportMail.

“Gareth, Andrew and Darren have done a cracking job.

“My dad played for Brigade for a long time and I know a lot of the older members.

“It’s a smashing club and I have a real soft spot for them, but not for the 80 minutes.

“People might say ‘you should win’ but this is a derby and it’s a cup game. In those situations, anything can happen.

“If Brigade beat us, they’ll dine out on the result for years so we’ve got to go there in the right frame of mind and do a professional job.

“We are treating it very seriously – Brigade are not going to roll over for us.”

Rovers are decimated by a catalogue of absentees, the main one being captain Andrew Dring, who has suffered a recurrence of a shoulder problem, while fellow back rower Stewart Grazier is unavailable, along with stand-off/ centre James Evens.

But Robinson says there will be no excuses should Rovers suffer a shock exit.

“We’ve got a lot missing,” he said. “But we’ve picked our best side and one we believe can win us this tie – there will be no belly aching from us if we don’t.

“We can’t fault the lads for their efforts and attitude in training over the summer and we are confident they will go out and give it everything tomorrow.”

It is the first Rovers game, ironically, since last season’s final, the side losing a heart-breaker at Hollow Drift, Evens striking the post with the last kick of the game against Consett to go down 31-29.

BBOB will be playing for the first occasion since losing the Durham Junior Cup on the same ground the previous night to Barnard Castle.

Foreman, one of the club’s player-coaches, says there has been a bit of a hangover at the club following the surprise defeat.

“There has been a bit of that I think, but we have to bounce back and look to have another good season,” he said.

“We haven’t got the biggest of squads and we have people away.

“It’s a tough game, Rovers are a good side and our aim tomorrow will be to put up a good show.

“Next week’s league game at Seaton is the important fixture for us and we need tomorrow’s match.”

BBOB will be minus two former Rovers scrum-halves, Andrew Arnell and Andrew Foreman, and here is a question mark over the participation of the third, Gareth Foreman, though he will be on the sidelines.

“I’ll always see Rovers as my club,” he said. “I still have a lot of mates there.”

Rovers (from): L Austwicke, A Smith, D Grand, I Coulson, J Gunn, M Fleet, D Fawcett, S Barnfield, M Stevenson, G Wise, D Cookland, K McGuire, J Cushlow, M Tucker, D Langley, A Stokes, J Padgett, L Wood, L Maddison, D Charters, C Bullock, M Foster