RUGBY PREVIEW: Old Crossleyans v West Hartlepool


HEAD coach Iain Dixon is looking to see West Hartlepool bring together “the best of both halves” when West Hartlepool visit Old Crossleyans tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

West have had a mixed start to date in North One East, where they currently lie mid-table.

They had a storming first half against Sheffield on the opening weekend of the league programme and last Saturday made a stunning comeback from 19-0 down at the interval to beat Rochdale 22-19.

In between it has not been as impressive.

West almost threw it away in the second period against Sheffield before losing at Dinnington and then turning in a poor first 40 minutes against Rochdale.

Dixon has seen much to be encouraged by but now wants them to marry the best bits together.

“Little bits of our play need sharpening up really,” he said. “We were a bit loose at times against Rochdale and a bit rusty on our patterns.

“We had a good first half against Sheffield and then a strong second half last week.

“If we can put the two together then we have a good performance.

“It will come. the talent is there.”

West have made four changes to their line-up with Ian Pinchen and Sam Miller coming into the starting pack and Liam Bailey and Zac Southern in the backs.

Dixon had words of praise for both players and for Peter Youll who scored the second try. “Pin and Sam made massive differences when they came on,” said Dixon.

“Sam should have started but he tweaked his groin in the warm up and had to go on the bench.

“Pin got through an unbelievable amount of work and so did Sam who was almost on one leg. I thought the forwards grafted really hard.

“Peter did some hard running in the centre.

“He’s done well, he’s taken over Andy Ches’s role since his injury and he’s done it really well.”

West were also boosted last Saturday by the return to first team duty of Bailey when the hooker-turned-centre came on in the unfamiliar surroundings of full-back.

The 22-year-old will be happy to be in the midfield tomorrow, when he partners Youll, with Andrew Foreman moving down to the bench.

Elsewhere, Southern is fit to resume after calf trouble and he takes the full-back jersey with Stuart Waites.

On paper, it looks a gilt-edged chance for West to register their first away win.

Old Crossleyans have lost all three fixtures, following up a 34-8 mauling at Bradford & Bingley with back-to-back home defeats to Yorkshire rivals, Wheatley Hills (23-16) and Dinnington (27-14)

But Dixon dismisses suggestions that tomorrow is a ‘gimme’.

“All the games are hard in this league, especially in Yorkshire,” he said. “Last week we started at a low tempo and we can’t afford to repeat that.”

West: Z Southern, S Butcher, L Bailey, P Youll, L Mallinson, S Waites, R Painter, I Pinchen, A Rollins, A Coates, C Atkins, O Bennett, A Barker, D Boatman (capt), S Miller. Subs: A Foreman, J Angus, J Rafferty