UTTOXETER RFC are preparing for their top-of-the-table clash with Market Drayton on Saturday.
The Town visit Shropshire on Saturday, kick-off 2.15pm, carrying a few injuries in what looks a must-win game for their title hopes.
Don Hayes’ outfit are nine points behind their table-topping hosts with a game in hand.
And victory at Greenfields Lane would take Uttoxeter a step closer to promotion from Midlands Four West (North) at the first attempt.
“I feel that the rest weekend will have done the squad good,” said director of rugby Hayes. “We have a fair few players who are carrying a few niggles, with some coming back from injury.
“Players have been playing through a few aches and pains and the week away from high intensity contact will certainly leave us more refreshed and eager to get into Market Drayton.”
Props Rob Armett (dislocated shoulder) and Dan Meads (back) are both battling back to fitness, along with Alex Crisp (ankle).
Paul Milward has damaged a hand and is waiting to see if it is broken, while Jim Holmes (knee) is doubtful. James Williams (broken toe) will play through the pain barrier.
“Drayton have a lot of players from the Pacific Islands and so will probably have a team of fit, fast and strong players,” said Hayes.
“Fitness and speed are something we worked on in pre-season, so it may prove to be a like-for-like clash, with the victor being the team who can produce the best rugby and be the most disciplined.
“I expect it to be close, with perhaps just a few points in it.
“Drayton have been quite free-scoring, but we’ve conceded less points than anyone in the league and won’t be wanting to give up our tight defensive record easily.”
UTTOXETER 2nd XV hammered Cannock 3rds 44-5 as they chase promotion from Staffordshire C North.
It was a good all-round performance, with the forwards looking powerful in the scrum as they were able to turn over possession on a number of occasions. Andy Clowes and Andy Haigh were also both sharp in the line-out.
Uttoxeter’s back three looked very switched on as they let nothing through, with some excellent one-on-one tackles from Seth Doughty-Thorpe and Ant Wilde. Tommy Gallimore held every catch at full-back and returned the ball, giving Uttoxeter a platform to build on.
Tries came from Williams (2), Lewis Bain, Chris Owen, Mike Davies, Haigh and Dale Spratt.
Williams (2) and Aaron Lakin both hit conversions, while Lakin also added a penalty.
Unbeaten Uttoxeter currently sit one place behind Hanford 1st XV with a game in hand.