Mission Highly Improbable this weekend, with a visit to the North East
Billingham’s home record this season is played 10, Won 10, 10 Try scoring bonus points, scoring an average of 36 points a home game. In their last home game visitors Blaydon (who with Harrogate are contesting the play-off spot with Billingham), became only the fourth team to take anything from a visit there, picking up a losing bonus point. Sandal took one of each at the start of the season, whilst and Kirkby Lonsdale and Harrogate left with try scoring bonus points, in games Billingham had a twenty point cushion in at the end.
Their poor away form has kept them from challenging Hull for automatic promotion. Despite leaving Mintbridge with a try scoring bonus point (one of only two they have picked up away from home – the other inevitably came at Wilmslow), and a twenty point win, our team probably had the better of the home game, but could take their chances.
TEAM : A much changed line up, with only six players starting in the same shirt as a fortnight ago and three of those are not regulars in that spot (although one has been in the past).
Garry Holmes returns for his first game since Vale of Lune at the start of the year, and joins Billy Coxon (470th first team appearance) and Mark Irving in the front row. John Dervey is back in the second row with Chris Evans, but a new combination in the back row, with Robbie Collinson, joined by Alistair Thompson and Matt Charters, making his first start since Blayton in November, for only his eighth start of the season.
Behind the pack a new scrum half, Wayne Ngubane (a 20 year old from South African Rugby Academy), Glen and Danny are in their normal positions, but Mark Carruthers moves from centre to wing, Dini Noyo from scrum half to the other wing, Kris Bratton from full back to centre, and Chris Park comes off the bench at full back.
If two of the bench get on it will be their debuts, with Development squad player Dan Shorrock and newcomer Mike Bradshaw named, with regular (it will be his eleventh appearance there this season) Jack Lashley.
WEATHER : After the recent glorious weather, rain later, but it should stay dry for the game.