Bumper crowd expected for top-of-the-table clash between West Norfolk and Newmarket

Action from West Norfolk, maroon and blue, against Battersea Ironsides on Saturday. Action from West Norfolk, maroon and blue, against Battersea Ironsides on Saturday.

Friday, February 7, 2014
9:28 AM

Hundreds of rugby fans will descend on North Wootton tomorrow to watch the top two sides in Greene King Eastern Counties Division One lock horns at Gatehouse Lane.

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A bumper crowd is expected for the mouth-watering match between league leaders West Norfolk and their main title rivals Newmarket, which starts at 3pm following a fixture between the clubs’ under-13 sides (12.30pm). The hosts sit three points clear at the top, having played a game more than the Suffolk outfit, and can take a giant leap towards a return to London North-East Division Three with victory.

However, captain Lawrence Savage insists that the huge clash is too early in the season to be hailed as a championship-deciding fixture.

West’s skipper said: “Newmarket go in as slight favourites, just edging us a little bit.

“I know we’re sitting top at the moment but Newmarket have picked up a couple of extra bonus point wins earlier on in the season so if they were to win that would put them back on top spot.

“It’s difficult to say that it’s going to be like a ‘be all, and end all game’, this one because we do have some hard fixtures to come following that. For us personally, we’ve got Woodbridge away who ran Newmarket close the other week, Harwich away where we’ve not won for a couple of seasons, so there’s still some tough games ahead.”

West lost the reverse fixture 30-25, their only league defeat of the campaign, while Newmarket have also only tasted defeat once themselves. That was a shock loss to basement boys Broadland - Great Yarmouth.

However, both teams enjoyed contrasting fortunes at the weekend with West losing their Junior Vase fifth-round clash 17-7 at home to Battersea Ironsides while Newmarket hammered Old Walcountians 45-0.

Visiting boss Steve Drawbridge, who has previously managed Wisbech, said: “My ethos has always been that if we’re succesful in a cup competition it means the league is looking after itself. I’m a great believer in winning is a habit.

“We’re bringing two 50-seater coaches and there’ll also be an awful lot of travelling support. We’ll have way over 100 people with us, we have regular crowds of way over 200, and I know West certainly exceed that. They’ve always had very good support down there. I think it’s just going to add to the whole occasion. Weather permitting, I think there’s going to be a very large crowd down there.”

Flying winger Jake Richardson is a massive doubt for West after damaging his knee ligaments at the weekend. Elsewhere in EC One, Swaffham, fourth, visit Crusaders.

For more build-up to the massive game, visit www.edp24.co.uk/wnsp tonight to hear a West Norfolk Sports Podcast rugby special.

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