RUGBY PREVIEW: Exmouth hope to boost title chances
Exmouth and Redingensians clash head on at the Imperial Ground tomorrow as the National Three South West promotion race starts to heat up.
The two sides should have met three weeks ago, but the game was called off when Redingensians refused to play, saying the pitch was unfit.
In the log jam at the top of the table where 12 points separate the top four of Weston, London Irish, Exmouth and Redingensians, games in hand such as tomorrow's are crucial.
The Cockles have ambitions to go higher and a win over Redingensians will only enhance them.
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"We were not very happy at the time, but three weeks later the pitches are firmer and that definitely suits the style of game we want to play a lot more," said Exmouth coach Jon Hill.
"If we win all our remaining games we will go up as champions, a nice thought but we aren't thinking quite that far ahead yet. Beating Redinginseans is an opportunity to close the gap on the top two and that is the first priority."
Kevin Squire, Barnstaple's director of rugby, nominated Exmouth as 'champions elect' after their win at Pottington Road last week.
Hill said Squire had got just a little carried away.
"We were terrible in the first half, but outstanding at times in the second," said Hill. "It needs an 80-minute performance to beat a top side such as Redingensians, whose physicality will be a lot greater."
Taunton need to turn the formbook on its head if they are going to beat Shelford at Hyde Park.
The Titans dropped into the National Two South bottom three last Saturday when they lost 25-24 to an injury-time score at Lydney.
Shelford, 54-5 winners at lowly Barking, are fifth in the table and still in with an outside chance of making the play-offs.
Taunton were in a similar position fighting relegation this time last year when they ran into the Cambridge-based outfit – and won 32-29 to start climbing the table before it was too late.
A similar result would be welcome for player-coach Tony Yapp to boost morale for a tricky month ahead that includes Cornish All Blacks (seventh), Henley (second), fellow strugglers Bournemouth and whipping boys Barking.
Camborne could be off the top of South West One tomorrow night if chasers North Petherton or Old Redcliffians win games in hand.
Although the Cherry & Whites are gameless, Pethy are way to Oldfield and Reds make the short trip to Clevedon. Wins for both will move Camborne down to third.