West braced for tough league rugby trip

WEST SWITCH: Tom Dixon
WEST SWITCH: Tom Dixon

WEST Hartlepool are braced for one of the toughest assignments of the season tomorrow when they visit promotion-chasing Rossendale.

The Lancashire club boast a formidable record on home territory and have a record of seven wins out of eight at their sloping Marley Pits ground this season.

But West can point to a win over the powerful Lancashire team already this season, the Foreman brothers, Andrew and Gareth, scoring all of the points in an 18-17 victory in the first home fixture of the programme.

While director of rugby Kevan Oliphant admits they could not envisage a more testing prospect but says if the “right West turn up” they could challenge second-placed Rossendale’s three-and-a-half month home unbeaten run.

“Rossendale are not where they are in the league for no reason,” he said.

“They are second because they are a strong side.

“You could may be say their away form is a little patchy after losing three times on their travels.

“But their results at home are very impressive.

“They had a great 33-7 win last week over Burnage, who gave us a good game at our place recently so that suggests they are a team in form.

“Rossendale’s ground is quite boggy which makes it even harder for visiting teams.”

West have been forced into a back row re-shuffle with Tom Doxon named at number eight with Craig Gilmour and Stephen Stockdale (injured) and Michael Taylor (unavailable) all missing.

SEE Friday’s Mail for full story