Ipswich only half the side they were

RUGBY UNION: Half of Ipswich's highly successful team that demolished high-flying Woodford last Saturday are unavailable for another away trip, to Letchworth.


HALF of Ipswich's highly successful team that demolished high-flying Woodford last Saturday are unavailable for another away trip, to Letchworth.

Holidays, work commitments and injury have robbed Direct Motor Line sponsored Ipswich of no fewer than eight players for the rearranged London League Division Two North game.

Originally Ipswich were due to have met Letchworth, newly promoted from the London League North West Division Three, earlier in the season. But Letchworth were involved in a Powergen Cup tie and tomorrow was the first available date the two clubs could meet, despite the counter attraction of England's international against New Zealand at Twickenham.

"It is a regular and reoccurring problem that we cannot select from a settled squad which is extremely frustrating," commented Mike Hancock, Ipswich's Director of Rugby.

"But if players decide to go away on holiday during the season when we have important fixtures there is nothing we can do about it.

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"The good thing is that we have had two highly satisfactory performances in the last two weeks, whatever the team lineup. And we hope that the players selected for the Letchworth game will approach it in the same positive way.

"There is plenty of talent in the pool of players from which we can choose but it would be a real luxury to field a settled side on a regular basis."

Those ruled out tomorrow are Simon Hughes, Bryn Kerr, Phil Keeling, Alex Primmer, Nick Williams, Rob Thomas, Andrew Skipper and Michael Bolton.

In addition there is a severe doubt surrounding the fitness of prop Dan Garbutt, who damaged his back in the 20-13 win at Woodford.

Nineteen year old Tom Allott stands by to make his first team debut in the front row. Danny Reeve hopes to return at hooker after breaking his nose a fortnight ago, within minutes of taking the field in the home match against Old Albanians.

Back in the squad for the first time since the start of the season is Sean Murphy, who had originally announced his retirement after playing in the opening game. Gavin Ball, Ally Kerr, Mike Edmonds, Jim Goodall, Alex Briggenshaw and Christain Hadwen are also among those drafted in for tomorrow's game.

Ipswich are currently in sixth place in the League, with a game in hand on most clubs. Letchworth are just below in eighth spot but with two games in hand.

"They have a massive pack with a number eight who weighs around 20 stone and I understand much of their game plan revolves around their forwards," said Hancock.

"So we have to aim to get parity in the scrums and win the lineouts, because we should have the confidence in the backs to run the ball and try and stretch them."

Last Saturday Letchworth lost at Diss 9-5 but are expected to be a different and more difficult proposition on their home ground.

There are no Magpies or A team fixtures tomorrow and there will be space for Ipswich supporters on the team bus, which leaves from Humber Doucy Lane at 10.15am for Hertfordshire.

Ipswich Ladies play on Sunday away at Worthing.

Ipswich first XV from: Clarke, Reeve, Garbutt, Allott, Briggenshaw, Price, Edmonds, Murphy, Eley, Holland, Hall, Coker, Goodall, Johnson, Brotherton, Ball, Hadwen, Kerr, Harding