Points are paramount for Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 12:54 22 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:24 03 March 2010
RUGBY UNION: Points are paramount as Ipswich go into the final half dozen league games of the season. With no one sure just how many clubs might be relegated, Ipswich learned this week that decision will not be made until the season is over, probably in May.
POINTS are paramount as Ipswich go into the final half dozen league games of the season.
With no one sure just how many clubs might be relegated, Ipswich learned this week that decision will not be made until the season is over, probably in May.
Between two and as many as five clubs could go down, depending on the geographical location of other teams who win promotion or face relegation in leagues above and below the London League Division Two North, where Ipswich are currently fourth from bottom.
"It is unsatisfactory but we have to aim to win four of our six games to make sure we finish above the drop zone in the worst case scenario," said Mike Hancock, Ipswich's director of rugby.
"In a best case scenario we may still stay up even if we were to finish third from bottom. But we can't bank on that happening."
Tomorrow is another huge test for Ipswich who take on third in the table Bishop Stortford at Humber Doucy Lane.
Ipswich lost to Stortford, who have won 13 of their 16 games, earlier in the season away and were knocked out of the Eastern Counties Cup 45-15 by Southend last Sunday.
However, the selectors felt there were encouraging signs despite the apparently heavy defeat.
"The changes we made at half-back and in the centre worked well and we are retaining the same threequarters lineup," said Hancock.
"There was a much quicker supply of ball at the backs for whom Ollie Johnson and Ally Kerr both did well."
However, kicking is one of the main areas in which improvement must be made. "We counted 15 different kicking errors, of various sorts, and that must be eradicated," added Hancock.
"We must not give the ball away cheaply. Also we must pressurise Bishop Stortford attack and not stand off them as much as we did against Southend.
The only team change from last Sunday is in the front row, where Sam Fairclough comes in at hooker and Danny Reeve moved out to prop. Ipswich are forced to make a last minute reshuffle against Southend because Crispin Stevens broke and ankle falling of a ladder.
Veteran prop Nick Hall was summoned as a bench replacement, but forced onto the field early in the game when Reeve had to go off with a hand injury.
Ipswich Magpies are also at home to Bishop Stortford second team. Returning is prop forward Dean Garrod, who has represented Eastern Counties Under 20s.
He has been on the books for Northampton but he now studying at Suffolk College. Garrod who previously played for Ipswich Under 16s, links up with Gavin Ball, the Magpie's hooker.
Jez Brotherton resumes in the centre after a two week honeymoon absence following his wedding. Mike Edmonds and Michael Bolton, on first team duty for the past fortnight, returns in back row.
It will be a busy day at the club with the vice president's lunch preceding both games, and the annual dinner in the club house in the evening with former British Lions, England and Leicester winger Rory Underwood as the main speaker.
On Sunday, Ipswich Ladies are also at home to Wimbledon Ladies.