Belper RUFC captain Callum Schofield is hoping a frustrating loss to Ashfield can serve as motivation for the team to finish the season strong.
Belper and Ashfield are fighting it out for second place in the Midlands 3 East (North) Division with just six points separating the two sides ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
Third-placed Belper have a game in hand over their rivals and will have to take full advantage if they are to challenge Ashfield for second spot behind runaway leaders Nottingham Casuals.
It begins with the visit of Tupton on Saturday (9th February) with the 13-21 defeat to Notts neighbours Ashfield in mid-January remaining fresh in Schofield’s memory.
He said: “We really wanted to put a marker down for the rest of the season with a big win, especially after a frustrating loss at their place earlier in the season, and things looked good at half time with us in control of the game.
“Unfortunately we picked up a few nasty injuries which resulted in players playing out of position and we just seemed to stop doing what we had been doing so well in the first half.
“A few errors in defence led to a few breakaway tries for them and we ended up losing the game 21-13. Frustrating, but lots of lessons learnt and maybe the kick we needed to show we still have to work hard to achieve what we want!”
It came after a strong start to 2019 with a 10-10 draw at Spalding.
“Spalding away is a notoriously tough place to go and play,” said Schofield. “They have not lost at home all season and you can see why.
“They have plenty of talent and always get a good crowd down to watch. We managed to battle to a 10-10 draw which we were actually pretty happy with. Both teams could have won it on the day so it was a pretty fair result.”
And, since the disappointment to Ashfield, Belper have already stepped up with a 22-3 win at Bakewell Mannerians.
“We had a productive two-week break before Bakewell, which is always a difficult place to go despite their struggles in the league this year,” said Schofield.
“We were in control of the game for the duration really, but the weather was miserable on the day. We did well to come away with a 22-3 win which included a bonus point for four tries being scored.
“That is all you can ask for on a day like that in all honesty and it’s a result we would have struggled to get previously, so it is pleasing to see the progress we are making.”
Third-from-bottom Tupton are the visitors on Saturday. They have won one and drawn three since the turn of the year.
“We have a few players missing due to unavailability and injury but we should still have a really good squad out, which demonstrates our extra strength in depth this year and gives a few of those players who have been playing well for the second team a chance to stake their claim for a first team shirt,” said Schofield.
“Hopefully we can put in another good performance and come away with a good result.”
Belper’s second team, meanwhile, have been in fine form and currently top their division
Schofield added: “Some of those guys are really putting their hands up for first team selection and it’s great to have that competition in the squad!”