STOWMARKET chairman John Phoenix has labelled tomorrow’s London Three North East derby encounter at Newmarket (3pm) as crucial for both teams, but for very different reasons.
Following Saturday’s 31-22 victory over Upminster on Saturday, Nigel Seaman’s third-placed side make the short trip to relegation-threatened Newmarket looking to keep up the pressure on second-placed Harlow, who sit just four points ahead of Stowm.
By contrast, tomorrow’s hosts sit only one place and just three points above bottom club Campion, but they have become one of the league’s form sides having won their last three matches, including Saturday’s narrow 7-6 victory over Wanstead.
Stowmarket recorded an emphatic 94-21 victory over their rivals back in November and although the league table would suggest a good chance of a repeat tomorrow, Phoenix is expecting a completely different affair.
He highlighted the importance of a victory if the club are to remain in the promotion picture and said: “There is always more excitement with it being a derby match and this one will be particularly important because a victory would be crucial for both of us but for different reasons,” he said. “It is crucial for ourselves as we feel we are still in the hunt for the promotion places and very crucial for Newmarket with them at the wrong end of the table looking to climb away.
“We had a big victory over them earlier in the season but we are expecting a much different and tougher match tomorrow.
“Despite their league position they have been doing extremely well recently and we have had a less-than-impressive record at Newmarket over the years.
“We have a long rivalry with Newmarket and we know we have to win if we are going to keep alive our promotion ambitions. It is a make-or-break match for us because if we lose then we can forget about promotion.
“We only need the sides above us to slip us once for us to be able to take advantage but we need to keep winning if we are going to achieve our aim of promotion.”
In London One North, Bury continued their recovery from a 25-point deduction, recording their fifth consecutive win following a convincing 52-5 victory over Ruislip at The Haberden.
The result was the third time in four matches that Bury have scored more than 50 points and lifted them above Saturday’s opponents into sixth place.
They will be looking to extend their impressive form when they travel to ninth-placed Brentwood tomorrow (3pm).
Greene King IPA Eastern Counties League Division Two is heading for a tremendous climax with Thurston and Thetford locked on 43 points each in second and third after Thurston saw off Thetford 25-9 on Saturday.
The pair are five points behind table-toppers Hadleigh, but both have a game in hand over their title rivals.
Tomorrow (3pm), Thurston go to sixth-placed Felixstowe and Thetford host third-bottom Norwich Union.
Meanwhile, second-bottom Mildenhall Eagles were denied just their second win of the season in a thriller against Felixstowe.
Mildenhall eventually lost 46-42, so the Eagles go to fifth-placed Mistley tomorrow (3pm) hoping to score as many points but be a little tighter defensively.