MICKY Ward is keeping promotion thoughts on the back-burner as his Blaydon side prepare for Saturday’s SSE National One derby at Tynedale.
Last weekend’s 28-22 home win over Rosslyn Park saw the Crow Trees outfit leapfrog their beaten opponents to sit second in the table, just four points behind leaders Ealing who occupy the one and only promotion spot.
Rosslyn Park host Ealing this Saturday in a game of enormous significance to the promotion picture, but for Ward and his men all attention will be focused on their own derby exploits in Corbridge.
The director of rugby said: “We have tough games to come with big away matches against the top sides after Christmas.
“If we start winning those then that is when I will start saying ‘maybe’ about the whole promotion thing.
“Before any of that we have a big day at Tynedale and those are the matches when you can virtually flip a coin to decide the winner.
“It doesn’t matter who is where in the league or who has just beaten who the week before, anything can happen in a Tynedale v Blaydon game.”
Ward’s charges look to be travelling in rude health after nine consecutive league wins and with few major injury concerns.
“There are a few bumps and bruises and some knocks, but it doesn’t look like anything more serious than that,” said the Wallsend native after Saturday’s bonus-point triumph.
“Tom Jeffrey pulled out on the morning of the game with the vomiting bug that seems to be doing the rounds.
“Matt Hall took a bit of a bang to the head but other than that we do not seem to have picked up anything too major.”
Delighted with Saturday’s result despite three late tries giving Rosslyn Park a pair of bonus points, Ward said: “It was hard work and I was starting to panic in those last ten minutes.
“For parts of the game it wasn’t pretty, but we grafted hard and defended well. “The lads stuck at it, and there were periods in both halves where we put our toe down and did what we are good at.
“Our backs’ defence was absolutely tremendous for 90% of the game and I take my hat off to the whole team because I was chuffed to bits with the result.
“We knew Rosslyn Park would be sharp in the back, and that is why I am so pleased with what our own backs managed to do to counter that threat.
“We maintained good width, we got up off our line and put them under a lot of pressure.
“It was great stuff.” The ex-Newcastle Falcon was himself to the fore in another solid shift at tight-head prop.
However, he reserved his praise for the team-mates who have contributed so much in reaching their present lofty perch.
Ward added: “At the start of the season, if you had said we would be second in the league and on a nine-game unbeaten run at the half-way stage I would have bitten your hand off. The good thing is the majority of lads who are in the team are still going to be here next year and we have a huge amount of consistency.
“We are not getting rid of 20 players and bringing another 20 in and the continuity that gives you is massive.
“The lads are all top quality players, they work hard for each other and they deserve everything they are getting at the moment in terms of results.”