Double triumph to ease Ipswich fears

RUGBY UNION: Ipswich Rugby Club have been set a target of maximum points from their two pre-Christmas games to pull away from the threat of any potential relegation.


IPSWICH Rugby Club have been set a target of maximum points from their two pre-Christmas games to pull away from the threat of any potential relegation.

The Humber Doucy Lane club has slumped from fourth to bottom of the London League Division Two North, after a narrow home defeat to Shelford last Saturday.

The Cambridgeshire club have now leapfrogged Ipswich in the table with only Twickenham, Thurrock – who have a game in hand – and bottom club Sudbury below Ipswich.

"The defeat last weekend changed the complexion of the table dramatically" said Mike Hancock, Ipswich's director of rugby.

"Had we won we would have put a bit of distance between ourselves and the bottom group. We were bitterly disappointed to lose and to be honest it was a dreadful performance in which all departments of our game were sub-standard.

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"Yet the irony is we have already proved this season we can raise our game and beat the best in the league".

That happened a few weeks ago when Ipswich enjoyed the highly successful 18-6 win over Bishop's Stortford, who had until their had suffered only one previous upset.

Tomorrow, Ipswich have to go to Bishop's Stortford to see if they can complete the double, before entertaining Cambridge the following Saturday.

"It is a big call because they will want revenge after losing to us. We know it will be a huge task to try to win away but that is what we have to set out to do."

Hancock's hope is for Ipswich to collect 12 points by Christmas, which was the total Ipswich achieved in the whole of last season. At present Ipswich have eight points so that means two straight victories for Ipswich to go into the new year with a positive approach in the second-half of the season.

A squad of 20 has been named for the visit to Stortford because several players will have to undergo late fitness checks on injury worries.

Martin Holland hurt his ribs against Shelford so Andy Skipper, who has been playing in the back row, will hook. Danny Reeve is unavailable because of work commitments for the second consecutive week.

Winger Phil Keiling injured his fingers in training on Tuesday but should be fit and it is hoped that Bryn Kerr, who has been out for a month with a rib injury, and John Eley, missing for three weeks with a groin strain, will both be back in contention.

Other team changes include the return of Alex Brigginshaw into the second row with Rob Shurety dropping out. Simon Hughes is unavailable so Alex Coker comes back at fly-half.

Michael Bolton, another who has been out for the past month, is also in the squad.

Ipswich (from): Williams, Thomas, Skipper, Clarke, Eley, Price, Brigginshaw, Searle, Primmer, Bolton, Hall, Coker, Brotherton, Kerr, Keeling, Novosad, Harding, Hadwen, Garbutt, Aylott.