Bitter experience means Wellingborough are desperate not to miss out

Action from Kettering's game against Bugbrooke and Corby versus Deepings. Pictures by Alison Bagley and David Malcolmson
Action from Kettering's game against Bugbrooke and Corby versus Deepings. Pictures by Alison Bagley and David Malcolmson

Wellingborough head coach George Shipman says his side are ready to escape Midlands Two East (South).

In a repeat of last season, Boro go into the last few games of the season scrapping for second place.

Twelve months ago, they missed out on the play-off spot to Newbold-on-Avon, but boosted by last week’s win over Peterborough, Shipman says his side are ready to win their battle with Biggleswade for the runners-up spot.

The sides are locked on 56 points with four games left and Boro head to Biggleswade for the final match of the season on Saturday, April 11.

They also face a trip to table-toppers Old Scouts in the penultimate game of the campaign.

Shipman, who takes his side to Market Harborough tomorrow night, said: “Scouts have opened up an 11-point gap at the top and there are just two teams scrapping it out for second place.

“We have to play them, so it’s up to us. It’s in our own hands.

“We’ve been there or thereabouts for a couple of seasons and we feel we are definitely ready for the next level now.

“We just have to finish off all the hard work we’ve put in this season.

“Last season really hurt us.

“It went right down to the wire and Newbold just pipped us, even though we beat them home and away.

“They got a bonus point when we beat them in the penultimate game of the season and that was the difference. We missed out by a point.”

Boro go into the final four games without key players Kyle Danns and Luke Gardiner, who’ve both joined rugby league side Oxford

Shipman refuses to use them leaving as an excuse for his side’s struggles since Christmas and says confidence has been restored by last week’s 29-10 win over Peterborough.

Ryan Mackie, Shaun Mackie and Keiran Fereday crossed for tries and there were 14 points from the boot of Pete Vickers.

Shipman said: “If we had lost at home to Peterborough I think that would have been our season over.

“But beating them means we go into tomorrow night’s game with some belief.

“For whatever reason, we’ve struggled a bit in January and February and it was the sort of result that really boosts a team.

“We know it won’t be easy at Harborough. It’s quite close at the bottom of the table and they need the points as well.

“I’m sure that, in their position, they will be targeting home games and they are sure to have a big crowd backing them under the lights.”

Stewarts & Lloyds could do with a favour from their county rivals tomorrow.

The Occupation Road side are in the relegation battle and sit three points behind Harborough occupying a spot in the bottom two.

They go to fellow strugglers Peterborough on Saturday.

Kettering proved they are not calling time on their promotion push just yet.

They could still sneak a play-off place after their injury-hit side demolished an inconsistent Bugbrooke at Waverley Road.

The win lifts them back into third – just three points behind second-placed Old Northamptonians.

This weekend they meet Derby, the side who missed out in last year’s play-offs.

The 52-8 victory over Bugbrooke saw them run in six tries through Steve Fraher, Tom Bridgeman, Danny Noble, Jordan Butlin (2) and Josh Plowright.

Rushden & Higham’s title bid in Midlands Three East (South) faces a crucial weekend.

They were given the easiest of five points last Saturday when an away win was awarded from their unfulfilled fixture at Stockwood Park.

As rivals Vipers matched that haul on the field it is as you were – level at the top on 66 points – with just four games left.

Rushden top the section with a superior points difference of 208 to 156.

However, Vipers take on rock-bottom Men’s Own and will be looking to improve their tally.

Rushden host Daventry hoping there will be no repeat of the 29-10 loss they suffered in the reverse fixture back in November.

It is Northampton opposition again this Saturday for Oundle.

And they will be keen to do better against Casuals than they did at BBOBs where they dominated the game but somehow contrived to lose 24-19.