Bradford & Bingley’s forwards won’t be lacking in set-piece drills as they prepare for their vital SSE National League Three North relegation clash at Penrith on Saturday.
“We hope to do 60 scrums and 50 line-outs at training tonight,” revealed Bees forwards’ coach Ronnie Kelly.
Penrith are bottom of the table but only sit below the Bees, who also have 18 points, because the latter have won three matches to Penrith’s two.
“I don’t think we have ever won there,” confessed Kelly, “but we think the heavy conditions will suit us.
“We will have the best squad out that we possibly can, including scrum half Kirk Arundale and back-rower Martyn Mitchell.
“The ideal scenario is for us to win on Saturday and next weekend at home to Percy Park, and for Park to lose against Billingham this weekend, which would put us out of the relegation places.”
Kelly added: “We have a good side but anyone can beat anyone in our division.”
Keighley’s ambition for the rest of the season is also to climb out of a demotion berth, and they have a big home derby against Ilkley in SSE Yorkshire Division One.
The hosts may be without full back Danny McGee but welcome back Scott Dyson.
Cleckheaton are getting used to being ‘shot at’ as leaders of SSE North One East, and are expecting no favours from visitors Driffield.
“We only won 39-32 there earlier in the season and we know we will have to play well to beat them,” said Cleckheaton’s fixtures secretary Alan Bentley.
“You never quite know what is going to happen after the Christmas break but most of the lads have kept themselves match fit by playing in the second team at Sheffield Tigers on December 21, which was the case for four or five of them, or for the first team on Boxing Day at Old Brodleians, and if we do play well we are confident that we will win.”
Alex Dawson comes into the second row for Grant Turton, who drops to the bench.
Bradford Salem, who start the new year in second place in SSE Yorkshire Division Two, have re-signed winger or centre Adam Sutcliffe, who has played for Huddersfield, Bradford & Bingley and Keighley.
“It will help us cover for the loss of Sam Gardner and Sam Dunn, who has gone back to Halifax RLFC, but Tom Barnes (broken hand) is hoping to be fit to play at Knottingley, so we could have some selection problems,” admitted Salem’s first-team manager Neil Klenk.
Baildon continue their struggle against relegation with a trip to Moortown.
The visitors are without scrum half Patrick Sowter but welcome back back-rower Craig Woodhall.
Keighley aren’t the only team to start 2014 with a derby as Old Grovians begin their fixtures with a home match against Skipton in SSE Yorkshire Division Three.
Wibsey are at strength at home to Knaresborough in SSE Yorkshire Division Five.
Cleckheaton (home to Driffield): R Hayden; C Blackburn, J Wilson, Matt Piper, James Marshall; Michael Piper, J Bickerdike; P Turner, B Thrower, A Piper, A Dawson, R Piercy, R Afoa Peterson, R Piper, O Akroyd. Replacements: C Piper, M Woodhead, G Turton.
Keighley (home to Ilkley): A Horsfall; L Carter, M Ferrazzano, A Ebbrell, S Walker; A Brown, I Woodwiss; C Spencer, C Dyson, M Hagyard, J Walker, D Iliff, S Dyson, L Sugden, S Minikin. Replacements: D Pullan, S Welch, P Sinfield.
Bradford Salem (at Knottingley) from: D Belcher; C Malarkey, O Al-Rawi, A Sutcliffe, T Barnes, S Savage; A Robinson, J Mitchell; J Bradbury, A Veitch, S Markey, D Luxton, S Leach, J Cunliffe, J Booth, J Fawcett, R Green, D Pearson, J Ashworth.