THE drinks are on ice, the disco on hold. Micky Ward has told his in-form Blaydon players to enjoy the club’s Christmas party tomorrow night, but only after their focus is spent on seeing off Rosslyn Park.
With the two sides joint second in National League One, four points behind leaders Ealing (whom Park play next weekend, when Blaydon are at Tynedale), Ward – whose side have won their last eight in a row – insists games rarely come bigger than the Priory Lane outfit’s visit to Crow Trees.
And the Blaydon director of rugby says such occasions demand his players roll up their sleeves and show what they are made of.
“You can’t get a much bigger game,” said Ward, who is set to be without scrum-half Andy Davies and full-back Gavin Painter.
“We’re joint-second with them, and whoever wins goes clear of the other. We’re both in good form, both confident, so it’ll be tough, and come down to who performs on the day. Only one team goes up, so it’s really important in the long-run. We’re taking one game at a time but this weekend is where you’ve really got to roll your sleeves up and show people what you’re all about. We’ve got our Christmas party after the game and that’s one of those things that you have to be mindful of.
“After the Cambridge game (a 39-12 win) we had a bit of a social event and I was nervous because you hope the lads aren’t going to be focused on that, rather than the game.
“But they’re semi-professional, a lot of them are older and a bit wiser and with it being a big game, I’m sure they’ll stay focused. I know they’ve been talking about the Rosslyn Park game for two or three weeks now, so they’re buzzing to get started. We’ve won eight on the bounce, so we’ve got no excuses this weekend and the lads should be full of confidence.”
At the other end of National League One, fourth-bottom Tynedale travel to ninth-placed Wharfedale.
Below them in National League Two North, Darlington Mowden Park, in second spot, host fourth-placed Hull Ionians and third-bottom Westoe face a daunting trip to leaders Stourbridge.
In National League Three North, fourth-placed Percy Park are away to Rossendale.