West Hartlepool Rugby Union side aiming for revenge against Old Brodleians

Stephen Stockdale
Stephen Stockdale

WEST Hartlepool have revenge on their minds when they continue their North One East title challenge tomorrow, writes Roy Kelly.

The promotion-chasers play host to Old Brodleians - the first club to lower West’s colours this season.

And director of rugby Kevan Oliphant said his team were desperate to put the record straight at Brinkburn (kick-off 2.15pm).

West were struggling to grind out their seventh straight league win when they visited Halifax in October.

It was not a vintage display by any means but a try by Stephen Stockdale early in the second half seemed to put them on their way to a hard-earned four points.

But Old Brodleians broke out for a late try with the touchline conversion stealing a 7-5 win.

“We’re aiming to get back into the swing of things tomorrow after the frustration of another postponement last Saturday,” said Oliphant, in reference to the trip to Northern, which was frozen off.

“The lads are looking forward to it, especially as it gives us the opportunity to put right what happened down there.

“We’ve only lost twice this season, to Old Brods and at Percy Park, and tomorrow is the first chance for revenge.

“We hammered them in the second half but we couldn’t get over the line.

“After being stuck in their own 22 for nearly all the second half they came up our end and nicked a try.

“So we’re looking forward to tomorrow and we’ll be looking to avenge that defeat.”

Despite losing to the Yorkshire side, West will start as very warm favourites.

West have a 100 per cent record at Brinkburn though the mid-winter Arctic freeze means they have only played five home fixtures.

Old Brodleians began the season with a bang on the road, with high-scoring wins at Northern and Driffield, but since that sparkling start, their away form has tailed off with four defeats in their last five journeys.

Their home form though has remained strong and nine wins from 14 matches places them safely in the top half in their second year in the league.

“Old Brods, as we found, are a decent side on their own patch,” said Oliphant.

“But like a lot of clubs in this league, they are a team who do not travel particularly well.

“We’ve got to make sure we do what we want to do and play our game.

“If we can make a good start then we’ll look to produce the sort of rugby we want to play.”

West lost possession of top spot last weekend when their match at Northern was postponed.

It allowed Percy Park the oportunity to nick first place and the North Shields club took full advantage by beating Driffield 15-0 at Preston Avenue.

Park lead the table by one point and they should maintain that gap by winning at Pontefract tomorrow.

But West will not panic – they have a game in hand and still have their title rivals to play in Hartlepool.

“We were frustrated not to play last Saturday,” said Oliphant.

“We identified a mini-league of six games before playing Percy Park and we wanted to win all of them before Park come to our place.

“That game was off unfortunately, but we have come back well from the break for bad weather.

“We’ve beaten Rovers and Morpeth and if you throw in the Mowden Park friendly, we’ve come out with three wins.

“We’ll be looking to keep that going tomorrow.”

West, not surprisingly, retain the same XV which beat Morpeth last time out which means Ben Lloyd continues in the second row spot for the injured Tom Dixon.

They are boosted on the bench by the return to fitness of versatile forward Adam Howard, who has Paul Moss and Luke Watson for company as subs.

West Stags also have a big game tomorrow, facing Tynedale seconds in the CaNDY League top of the table clash at Brinkburn (kick-off 2.15pm)

West: S Waites, A Larkin, C Cheslin, G Robinson, A Cheslin, G Foreman, A Foreman, A Carr, L Bailey, A Coates, B Lloyd, A Davies, D Boatman, J Boatman, S Stockdale. Subs: L Watson, P Moss, A Howard