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Home > News > Westoe v Liverpool St Helens Preview
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Your News Westoe v Liverpool St Helens Preview
26
MAR

WHEN the final whistle blasts in Westoe’s home game against Liverpool St Helens on Saturday, thoughts will immediately switch to a windy plateau 140 miles away.

For it is on Sheffield Tigers’ exposed pitch 900 feet high overlooking the Peak District that the Shieldsmen’s slender promotion hopes could either be kept alive or come to grief.

That is where Huddersfield will strive for the victory that would clinch the North One runners-up spot and so entitle them to play their Midlands counterparts for a place in National Three (North) next season.

But Gareth Nersbit’s side will banish all thoughts of that contest as they concentrate on their own game keenly aware that, equally, defeat would condemn them to third top spot for the third successive year.

He said: “What happens at Sheffield is beyond our control. They have proved a very hard side to beat at home and if Huddersfield manage it then good luck to them.

“We know we must win and that is in our own hands. We must remain totally focused and not let our concentration slip for a moment.”

It was after Beacon Electrical (NE) Ltd-sponsored Westoe lost narrowly away from home to unbeaten leaders and almost certain champions Kendal just before Christmas that they set themselves the stern task of winning every remaining league game in a bid to overtake Huddersfield.

That they have so far achieved in splendid fashion with eight consecutive victories. But, sadly for them, so have the Yorkshiremen who remain five points ahead with just three games remaining.

Said Nes: “We have fought very hard and achieved too much for us to take our foot off the gas now.. We know we must go all out to get the two points and then worry about the result at Sheffield.”

One thing is for certain, if both results so go the Shieldsmen’s way it will be a battle royal when Huddersfield come to Wood Terrace for the second last game in a fortnight’s time.

Liverpool St Helens, beaten 29-16 at home by Westoe in the first game of the season and in third bottom place, will come as outsiders.

But they have won their last two matches and bitter experience has shown Big Nes that opponents can be at their most dangerous when fighting for survival.

His side, of course, come fresh from an emphatic 46-5 victory at Mowden Park which earned them a place in the final of the Durham Senior Cup against Darlington which will be played on the Hartlepool Old Boys’ ground next Saturday.

Admittedly, National Three side Mowden Park, hit by injuries as they battle for second top place and a play-off chance of promotion, fielded what was effecively a reserve XV.

As Nesbit said: “That was their choice and I have no problems with it. We can only play the team that they put out and, while I don’t think we played particularly well, we smashed them.”

Rather less palatable was the observation by secretary Kevin Robinson on the club website that Westoe, with the present players and tactics, would “not cut the mustard” at National Three level.

This, he insisted, was not “sour grapes” but friendly advice. Friendly advice in return might be that if his team does achieve National Two status - and the very best of luck to them - their reserves will need considerable strengthening.

Darlington, in the lower reaches of North One, inflicted a 51-12 defeat on Blaydon - two divisions ahead - who similarly opted to field a much weakened side.

What does that say about the once proud competition - for so long the apogee of ambition for clubs throughout the county - now reduced to just four teams so that the first round is the semi-final?

*Memories of two wonderful personalities in Westoe’s annals are evoked by tomorrow’s sponsors.

The game is being sponsored by John Eltringham whose father Alf - better known as “Tubby” - was a robust larger-than-life front row forward and committee man who for several seasons until his death in January last year invited his old cronies to an annual get together in the clubhouse.

And the ball is sponsored by stalwart supporter Michael Marr whose father Fred was for years the club’s main man as dedicated secretary and chairman highly respected in rugby circles throughout the region and beyond.

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