RUGBY: The big game - Newbold v Old Laurentians

There was a huge crowd at Fenley Field in September, it's likely to be even bigger this time at Parkfield Road
There was a huge crowd at Fenley Field in September, it's likely to be even bigger this time at Parkfield Road

Old Laurentians’ preview by Bill Wallis

There have been many tussles between Old Laurentians and Newbold over the years but few have had the significance of this Saturday’s game between the sides at Parkfield Road when the championship of Midlands 2 West (South) will be at stake, writes Bill Wallis.

The standout teams in the league this season, leaders OLs arrive at the match with an unbeaten record and Newbold’s colours have been lowered just once.

The two teams couldn’t be separated in the season’s opening game at Fenley Field when they shared the points in a 16-16 draw.

The writer can claim to have predicted this outcome as long ago as last May.

Away on a short holiday, I received a text from Bold’s Chairman Paul Fereday asking me if I had seen the newly published fixture list for 2014/15, to which I replied ‘no, when do we meet?’

When his next text arrived telling me that the clubs had been paired in the first and last games of the season, I replied that we could well be going head to head for the league title come April 11. He didn’t disagree.

This forecast was based on an objective view of the strengths of the two teams rather than blind optimism.

OLs had been in Midlands One the previous season and after a poor first half in their league campaign had come good in the second with some notable wins and excellent performances against the leading sides, but were nonetheless relegated.

Meanwhile Newbold, in Midlands 2 East that season, had narrowly missed out on elevation to Midlands 1 when losing the promotion play-off game. So both teams were poised for a good season in 2014/15 and so it has proved to be.

If bookmakers were to offer odds on the match they would look at Newbold’s outstanding form in the latter part of the season and probably make them favourites. But OLs will arrive at Parkfield Road absolutely determined to preserve their record so it’s a foolhardy man who confidently attempts to predict the result.

Long term injury absentees apart, OLs expect to be naming the side that has done duty over the last few games of the season for Saturday’s match, which will probably draw the largest crowd at a sporting event in Rugby for some time, certainly since the sides met at OLs ground last September.

Kick-off at Parkfield Road is at 3pm.