Norfolk duo looking for away-day boost
Norfolk's two representatives in the National League set-up both have an opportunity to pull away from the foot of the London and SE table tomorrow – even though neither has home advantage.
Diss travel to bottom side Basingstoke, while North Walsham visit mid-tab le Civil Service, the side who won by a single point at Mackenders last weekend.
After the disappointment of that result, when they lost with virtually the last play of the game, Diss must pick themselves back up again for the trip to Hampshire.
This is a very different looking Basingstoke team to the one that won there last year, when Diss were 17-3 ahead just before half-time but let the lead slip to lose 37-22.
Basingstoke have won only once this season and sit at the bottom of the league, having had squad and selection problems.
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However Diss are again hampered by unavailabilities, so new faces have been added to the squad that will travel. Making their debuts will be youngsters Charlie Precious, who has come up through the youth ranks at Diss, and Matt Briggs who has been playing for West Suffolk College.
The Saracens are playing at home against Norwich Union (2.45pm).
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Having broken their losing sequence, albeit with just a draw, North Walsham will go into tomorrow's game with a fresh outlook and an extra dose of self belief. It will also be interesting for the supporters as this is believed to be the first time in their history that they have played Civil Service.
One of the oldest clubs in the country, they used to draw players purely from the organisation from which they derive their name, but are now an open club.
At the start of the decade they were promoted on four successive occasions and then had a couple of seasons consolidating before suffering a minor setback, relegation from London One in the 2007-08 season. Last season saw them achieve their current status via the play-offs. A three wins from eight games record sees them in mid-table, one place below Walsham's previous opponents Staines, so this should be another tight contest.
Coach Nick Greenhall is having to cope with forced changes in all areas. With props Ben Campbell, Dom Roberts and Stuart Loose unavailable there will almost certainly be debuts for Dave Lamacraft and John Pymm, with a start and a place on the bench respectively.
Of the back five Grant Furlong is away on service duty for eight weeks so Josh Reeves will step up for what is his final game before heading home to New Zealand after five season's valuable service. Behind the pack Lee Sandberg, fresh from helping Sweden to a 32-13 success over Croatia last week, is almost certain to return at scrum-half, with Iain Young his likely half back partner.
Skipper Jamie Burroughs is due back from injury but Jack Hoyles is unavailable. Neil Peacock seems destined to cement a place in the side, probably on one wing, with Adie Ball on the other.
Barry Frost is taking an enforced rest following a hit that left him with blurred vision last week but Warren Abrahams has had an extra week to recover from his knee injury and is ready to return at full back.