AMID all the expectancy and excitement surrounding Liverpool St Helens’ play-off trip to the North East this Saturday it would be easy to forget that Sandbach finished as champions.
Just as in the Football League Championship, the winner’s achievements are often blurred by the hype around the play-offs.
So it was appropriate this week that LSH President Ray French, in thinking ahead to Saturday’s encounter against Percy Park, chose first of all to congratulate Sandbach on their North One West success. “Everyone at Moss Lane congratulates them on their achievement” he said. “They didn’t just win the league, they walked it by a massive 21 points. We wish them all the very best for next year”.
Reflecting on this week’s crucial game, French added: “This is a massive game for the club. The lads have stuck at it all season and deserve to have a crack at the higher level”.
With forwards Mark Devine and Mario Bonati expected to be fit, Director of Rugby Martin Jones hopes to be picking from a full strength squad for the journey to North Shields. Only flanker Paul Bamber (hamstring) will be absent from the squad which began the season.
LSH go into the play-off after recording two half century wins in the space of four days, both without conceding any points. The 57-0 Lancashire KO win against Waterloo was followed up by the 52-0 triumph against Aspatria.
Jones will not do anything different with his squad in the build up. He said: “We will go through our routines and prepare as normal.
“Percy Park will be a tough side to beat but we ended up with the same number of points in our respective leagues and had the same number of wins so it should be a good contest.
“Burnage made the trip last year and won and I see no reason why we cannot do the same.”