Sandown & Shanklin make the trip to the New Forest to play Fordingbridge this Saturday, in the knowledge that a victory against the hosts will put them in solid position to secure 2nd place in Hampshire Premier, and with it the play-off spot, for the opportunity to play in London South West 3. The end of this season would mark a five season gap since the Hurricanes were relegated from the league they hope to be re-joining come the end of the current season.
However, the visitors this Saturday would be naive to take their eyes off their opponents and focus on the season goal. Fordingbridge RFC present a major obstacle in the way of the island based team, and are very wary of the threat offered by the home side. The stats don't lie either. In the past six games against their opponents, the Hurricanes have only defeated Fordingbridge twice of the last six meetings, once in the league, last time out in November. And also in last years Hampshire Plate Competition.
Form of late for has been equally patchy, the Hurricanes recording three wins out of the last five games, suffering narrow defeats to Basingtoke and Bognor. Fordingbridge have suffered the same losses, plus perhaps a surprise defeat to Alresford on the road. Nonetheless the hosts this Saturday bounced back with a massive 17 - 96 victory against Gosport & Fareham RFC 2nd XV last weekend.
Sandown & Shanklin have virtually a fit bill of health to select from. After managing to allow fly-half Cameron Mitchell, prop Martin Richomme and flanker Henry Bagnall a week off last week from New Milton's visit to the Fairway, it has allowed the trio to rest ahead of the trip to the New Forest. It's not all great news, with a fews knocks from last Saturdays game taking their toll. Sam Rees suffering an injury which will rule him out for the next few weeks. Likewise winger Josh Wetherick is still out with ankle issue. It is also a few weeks early for returnee Michael Barrett, who is looking to start his second stint at the Club, but being held back by a troublesome thumb injury that required surgery.
"We have a very young squad, epitomised by the likes of Harry Hopper, Ben Shannon and Ben Sanderson, who have shown this season their quality, but also their character. Saturday will be a test of these boys and the squad, in how far they have come this season and where their next developments steps lie. A victory against a very talented Fordingbridge side would be a brilliant result of showing how far these boys have developed. Nevertheless, we need to let our rugby do the talking and put the hardwork in, to produce the result we desire."
Director of Rugby Damian Marriott sharing his thoughts ahead of this Saturday's clash.