Derby game is cruch match

RUGBY UNION: It's crunch time in London League Division Two North – and Ipswich are at full strength for their trip to Moorsfield for the Suffolk showdown with Sudbury.

IT'S crunch time in London League Division Two North – and Ipswich are at full strength for their trip to Moorsfield for the Suffolk showdown with Sudbury.

The teams were due to meet in the Suffolk Cup semi-finals, but Sudbury were forced to concede because injuries and unavailabilities meant they could not field a front row.

Today's contest will also have the added spice of a local derby which both teams must win to secure their league future.

Defeat today will leave either team in dire straits, requiring a large slice of luck as well as victory in their final games – Sudbury at Diss, Ipswich at home to Old Verulamians – to have any chance of avoiding relegation.

Mike Hancock, Ipswich director of rugby, said: "We need four points from our last two games, but we should be at full strength for just about the first time all season.

"Training has gone very well and we go into the game in a very positive mood."

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Ipswich will take a party of 22 for a good work-out on the pitch, after which the final squad of 18 will be selected, depending on conditions.

They know they will face a team capable of producing good performances – Sudbury won 24-11 at Humber Doucy Lane – but, like Ipswich, also suffering from inconsistency.

There should also be a big crowd, with the local supporters matched by a large number of Ipswich fans.

Mike Fielden helped to give Ipswich an improved performance in the narrow defeat to league champions Hertford, while Uys Van Heerden is also back to his best form.

Ipswich squad (from): Wythe, Thomas, Reeve, Garrod, Clarke, Briggenshaw, Price, Primmer, Griffiths, J Searle (captain), Rush, Murphy, Hall, Goodall, Van Heerden, Fielden, Kerr, Harding, Johnson, Brotherton, J Searle and Towns.

HADLEIGH'S last away game of the season sees them travel into Essex for this weekend's crucial Division Three North East fixture.

The make up of the promotion and relegation issues are still not decided which adds more importance to the outcome of this game.

Hadleigh are currently fourth bottom of the division with only Bury St Edmunds left to play next weekend and with Chingford just one place above them it is all to play for.

Two victories over the remaining weeks would almost certainly see the Suffolk club keep their place in London 3NE.

Coach Scott Liebernberg is quietly confident that his charges will emerge victorious from this week's fixture and has only one selection doubt before he finalises the team sheet.

Unfortunately Chris Lander, who has given several sterling displays over the past few weeks, is away skiing and will miss this weekend and the game against Bury.

John Roper, who is eager to give a sound display, returns to the second row and will fit nicely into the gap he has left, the only other change in the pack sees the return of No 8 Mike Count who will provide some much-needed stability at the base of the scrum.

The backline shows no changes with Ian Griffith keeping his place on the wing. The strength in depth has been severely tested all season but this weeks' bench sees the return to fitness and availability of Paul Lander and Peter Kerr.

Sudbury's unfortunate withdrawal from the Suffolk Cup now means that the final will be played at Layham Road on Saturday, April 20, kick-off 3pm.

Hadleigh: King, Smith, Jones, Woodhouse, Roper, Joseland, Dexter, Count, Visser, Carson, Griffith, Eady, Tuitubou, Aven, Winter. Reps: Lander P, Kerr, Jackson.

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