RUGBY LIONS: Longest trip to Westoe

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While last Saturday Rugby Lions hosted exuberant league champions who had nothing else to play for, this week Lions have to make the longest journey of the season to the South Shields home of a Westoe team who are still right in the battle for a play-off place.

One of the contenders, Loughborough Students, Leicester Lions or Westoe themselves, will probably be travelling to meet Tommy Turner’s Jersey team but the north-easterners would be the surprise package if they managed it, having only come into National League 2 rugby last season.

They would also have preferred a home game but cannot match Jersey’s seasonal record which determines location of the play-off game.

Westoe’s ground is really a cricket field with the rugby stand painted white to act as a sightscreen. Last season, after Lions played there also in April, the next visitors the following week were Caldy and, because the cricket match ended late, the rugby players had to wait around before they could play.

There is a huge slope from one set of posts to the other and, having taken a big lead into half time, Rugby were steamrollered as Westoe raced downhill with accustomed confidence.

Given the recent weather, the pitch is likely to be as hard as last season too, like a concrete ramp but with little concrete balls on the surface that took the skin off players’ faces such as centres Matt Goode of Rugby and James Clark of Westoe.

At the weekend, Lions said they hoped to have a couple of players back from injury and Alex Stajka should be available again.

But Liam Munro will not be playing and Lions will have to hope that Santiago Sanchez Paez is fit after his latest two impressive performances came despite continuing injuries.