RUGBY PREVIEW: West Hartlepool v Dinnington
WEST Hartlepool must “front up” tomorrow when they take on one of North One East’s most feared packs.
West take on fifth-placed Dinnington who make their first-ever visit to Brinkburn in the final league fixture of 2014 (kick-off 2.15pm).
It is a tough test for Iain Dixon and Peter Robinson’s team who will be looking for at least four points tomorrow to bury the pain of last Saturday’s late heartbreak against Bradford & Bingley.
West, seemingly, had five points in their grasp, only to concede a converted try with the last play of the game as the Bees snatched a 32-32 draw.
“While we didn’t throw it away completely – we still came away with three points – it was disappointing not to get all five points,” Robinson told SportMail.
“Obviously it would be nice to finish the first half of the season with a win.
“While we were unable to hold out for the victory last week, our home form is not to be sniffed at.
“We’ve beaten Sheffield who are top and defeated Rochdale who are fourth.
“Dinnington are fifth so we know it’s not going to be easy, but we know we are capable of beating anyone at home.”
Like many rugby matches, it is likely to be the battle up front which decides the destination of the points tomorrow at Catcote Road,
Robinson has faith in his forwards and – if conditions allow – he believes the backs can make an impact.
“Dinnington’s entire game is based on their forward pack,” said the coach.
“We’ve got to front up in the forwards, it’s as simple as that.
“And logic says if we move the ball away from their pack it will suit our game, but much will depend on the weather.
“If it’s blowing a game or sleeting or raining then it becomes a bit more difficult.
“But if conditions allow then I think our backs can prosper.
“We certainly looked more fluent in that area last week than we have for a while and we’ve picked the same set of backs tomorrow.
“But before any of that, we must front up in the pack.”
West, as Robinson explained, have named the same back division while there are two changes up front.
Ian Pinchen comes in for Ross Wood who steps down to the bench while, in an interesting selection, West have named Liam Bailey in the back row in place of the unavailable Jordan Baggs.
Bailey made his name at West as a 17-year-old flanker as league rules prevented him from playing in his favoured hooking role before the age of 18.
After coming of age he excelled in the number two jersey as well, before a serious knee injury interrupted his career. He came back following a long absence as a centre, where he played alongside Peter Youll.
But tomorrow, the versatile player gets his wish with a return to the flank.
“Liam will give us that bit of extra pace around the pitch,” said Robinson. “He’s excellent in that role.
“Pinhead comes in for Ross, who has been playing well and I’m sure he’ll play a part in tomorrow’s game.”
West: S Waites, K Jamieson, S Butcher, P Youll, L Mallinson, Z Southern, R Painter, I Pinchen, A Rollins, A Coates, J Rafferty, C Atkins, D Boatman (capt), L Bailey, S Miller. Subs: R Wood, J Corbett, A Foreman