Birmingham & Solihull Bees will line up against fifth-placed Tynedale at Sharmans Cross Road tomorrow without player-coach Russell Earnshaw.
The influential back row is in South Africa with the England Sevens and is not due back until Sunday but unlike last season when Bees tended to fall apart when their iconic No 8 was missing the Bees of 2008 are made of sterner stuff.
In the last two games they have topped 50 points in both matches, and average 48 for the last four. With 446 points from 12 games the second-placed Bees are 55 points up on the next highest scorers who are Cambridge, nine points below them in third spot in the table.
High-spending Cambridge are managing to just keep in touch with the leaders in National Two and did themselves a favour, and bees an even bigger one, by winning by a single point at leaders Redruth last weekend.
It is a result which brings the leaders side back into the reach of Bees who lost to the West Country side on the opening day of the season and adds a bit of extra spice to next week’s EDF Trophy third round clash when the Cornish outfit are the visitors to Sharmans Cross.
The result will have no league points at stake but may well throw down a marker for what could be a final title showdown on the last day of the season.
First, though, Bees have to see off the likes of Tynedale and assistant coach Eugene Martin knows, as do Redruth after last week, that a slip can be costly.
He said: “There is an opportunity there now. We just have to keep working hard and do what we are doing. Train and turn up on Saturdays.
“You can have all the training in the world but if you don’t turn up and play it counts for nothing.”
Tynedale have agreements with Newcastle about loaning players and Martin said: “We haven’t seen any footage of Tynedale but I have spoken to a few Stourbridge boys and they said that the young lad Tim Visser from Newcastle is quite a handy player.”
The 21-year-old Dutch winger was loaned to Northampton last year and turned in a man of the match show in last week’s 24-15 home win over Stour.
Martin said: “He’s big and he is strong and they obviously play off him quite a bit. Apparently he scored two and set up two.”