Birmingham & Solihull face another test of their promotion credentials at Waterloo this weekend, not so much because of what their hosts might bring to the occasion as how they approach the match themselves.
On paper a trip to the division’s whipping boys might not seem terribly daunting but add to the equation the fact they go to Blundellsands without head coach Russell Earnshaw and alarm bells start ringing.
Since Earnshaw stepped up to head coach midway through last season Bees have struggled whenever the brains behind their operation has not been present, indeed they lost a crucial relegation battle with Launceston in February while Earnshaw was honouring one of his regular Sevens commitments in San Diego.
He is away again for the next two Saturdays, in Dubai and then on to South Africa, but this time in the considerable shape of Eugene Martin, he has left behind a pair of watchful eyes and careful hands
For the first time since arriving at Sharmans Cross Road in June, the backs coach and former New Zealand Maori assumes control of the promotion hopefuls and he is committed to making sure there are no slips on his watch.
“Is this weekend a certainty?” he asked rhetorically. “You’d have thought that would have been the case against Wharfedale. We can’t look at it like that. They are another side in the national leagues that we need to get another win out of.”
To help Martin pass his test is a momentum that has seen Bees win each of their last five matches and despite trailing leaders Redruth by seven points are probably the form team in National Two.
That’s certainly the case if one considers the magnitude of the 53-3 battering of Cinderford a couple of weeks ago.
“In the last couple of weeks we have scored from 102 metres, from behind our own line. We did that against Cinderford with young Ryan Tomlinson,” he said.
“I think that was the best we have played this season as far as a complete performance of forwards and backs. We need to keep producing that.”
But will the mice still play while the cat’s away? “I think we have 20 leaders. Rob Connolly is the captain but we have tried to instil an attitude where everyone leads.
“Russell has planned for this situation. In the back of his mind he knew it would be an issue. It was unfortunate last year and he doesn’t want that to happen again this year.”