Race for the title adds extra spice to local derby contest

Eastbourne are set for a tough battle against Hellingly
Eastbourne are set for a tough battle against Hellingly

It’s been a match that everybody’s been looking forward to ever since the fixture list was released earlier this year.

But now, following the surprise form of recently-promoted Hellingly, the clash has even more spice than ever before.

For when Eastbourne travel to neighbours Hellingly on Saturday, it won’t just be a local derby, it will be first versus second - a potentially crucial match in the race for the Sussex Spitfire One title.

However, despite all the excitement surrounding the match, head coach Russ Aikenhead insists his side are just focusing on playing the game and pocketing the points.

He said, “Their coach came to watch us a little while ago and we had a very brief chat but from what he said, it sounds like Hellingly like to play rugby just like we do, so it should be a good game. Yes, it’s a local derby but we’re not interested in any of the cheap stuff - we will just go out there to play rugby.

“We’ve got a really big cup game on January 30 that we’re already working towards now. This weekend’s game is very pivotal in the title race - if we can get the win against Hellingly, it will put us two wins clear at the top of the table and then our focus can turn even more towards that cup fixture.”

The Blue and Golds have not played a competitive match in three weeks following Holbrook’s failure to raise a team last Saturday but despite this, Aikenhead insists his men are fit and fired up for the tough contest.

He said, “It was very disappointing not to play on Saturday because that would have been a good warm-up for this weekend.

“It will be a very tough challenge on Saturday, especially as we will be playing on a very muddy and boggy pitch. Everyone is looking forward to this game - they have impressed with their results this season.

“Apart from a couple of long-term players out, all our injuries have pretty much cleared up. The batteries are recharged and everyone is ready to go on Saturday.”