Biggleswade Rugby Club 1st XV greet the New Year languishing in the bottom half of the league table having lost their last eight matches in the campaign.
The losses of major players like Lawrence Hutchinson, Kyle Hookway and Philip Tipping have left a big hole in their three-quarter line up. This has led to games being lost that otherwise would have been comfortable wins.
In September Biggleswade scored 12 tries in their first three games but only 13 since in the last eight matches. By Christmas last season they had already scored over 50 tries.
With a new captain Dom Nott in charge Biggleswade started well with wins over Vipers, Belgrave and Rushden & Higham in quick succession to be third in the league table.
But an unexpected narrow loss to bottom club Leicester Forest was the start of a dreadful losing streak which ended just before Christmas with the heaviest league defeat ever against Peterborough. In the same fixture last year, also in December, Biggleswade put nearly 50 points on the same outfit.
The forwards have generally gone very well with Slawek Bukowski, Michael Haddow, James Ramsey and Jonathan Hamilton dominating the lineout. With large forwards the scrums have also been a comfortable area to disrupt opposition pit ins.
Unfortunately ‘Hammy’ Hamilton has now left the Club after seven seasons in which he has made a major impact. He is a big hearted player who, whether playing in the centre, at number eight or in the engine room at lock, always gave 100% even when his body was creaking in several places. If there was the technology available like in the Premiership his work rate in carries or tackles made would be immense.
Despite this dominance in many games by their pack Biggleswade’s resources have been stretched when players are recovering from knocks. The Development XV has delivered several key replacements in the backs but forwards take longer to develop. Stepping up to first team level is still a massive challenge and not for the faint hearted.
The return ties in the league start tomorrow with the visit of Belgrave to Langford Road. Away from home after a poor start in which the key services of scrum half Michael Trigg were lost and early tries conceded Biggleswade recovered to record a comfortable win.
Jonathan Hamilton was one of several players to cross Belgrave’s line for a try.
The following weekend Biggleswade are again off to Leicester to take on Vipers who Biggleswade beat at home. It was a 70 point thriller with Biggleswade just edging ahead by six points.
Bottom placed Leicester Forest are to be visited the following week. They still languish at the bottom of the table having just three scalps including Biggleswade in that shock result. Their other triumphs were against Vipers and Oakham to whom Biggleswade lost without troubling the score board. If Biggleswade can win all three their relegation fears may well be over. But on current form it is a big ask especially with confidence at a low level.
After several very successful seasons culminating in Biggleswade needing to win their final league match last season to be in the play-off for a place in Midlands 1 the current situation is a shock to the system.
But it can be put right with a whole hearted commitment from all the players to make themselves available every week and to do the hard work on the training pitch. Turning out on a cold and wet evening to train on a muddy pitch is not a cheering prospect. But it has to be done if Biggleswade are to survive in Midlands 2 for another season.