‘We might just Nick it!’

Nick Crapper Sheffield RUFC Coach
Nick Crapper Sheffield RUFC Coach

Sheffield’s head coach Nick Crapper knows what to expect when Wheatley Hills come calling on Saturday.

It will be tough, very tough but they can go a long way to proving a point in their opening home North One East encounter against their South Yorkshire rivals (3pm).

The Doncaster side are one of the strongest in the league - they’re one of only three teams who have won both their opening games, Old Brodleians and Morpeth are the others - albeit last Saturday’s was a narrow 22-20 victory over Malton and Norton.

While, historically, the clubs have not met one another very much at first team level, there was a fierce rivalry two years ago in Yorkshire One when Wheatley secured promotion.

Now Sheffield have the chance to match up, get the 27-18 defeat at Cleckheaton out of their system and bring the ‘Fortress Abbeydale’ mentality into play.

“They’re a very good side and it’s going to very difficult,” said Crapper.

“Wheatley play a hard, physical game. They’ve got a well structured back line and they’re hard and abrasive up front and we’ve got to match them in all areas.”

He will be hoping that the Cleckheaton result will act as a wake-up call to his players ...

“We made silly mistakes and got punished for them,” he added. “However, it’s difficult to be too critical.

“We didn’t play as well as we could but we still created the chances to get a result and managed to secure a bonus point.

“We have to make sure we learn from it. Winning your home games is always important at whatever level and we have to make sure we make it as difficult as possible for the opposition by making Abbeydale a fortress.”

Apart from centre Ryan Amos, who has been sidelined by a hip injury, Crapper has a near full squad to choose from.

He admits he’s happy with the playing side at the club with a strong second team backing up the first XV, plus a fast-improving third string to give much needed strength in depth.

Sheffield will hopefully not encounter another error-strewn day as was the case at Cleckheaton, coming so soon after their excellent opening day performance at Gateshead.

They had the boost of a 10 minute try when Alex Hill sped past the home defence to score close to the posts and Donal Collins added the conversion.

That was maybe as good as it got as Cleckheaton took full advantage of a defensive line-out error to tie the scores up at 7-7. Four minutes later another error handed the home side an unconverted try and on the half hour mark they paid the price yet again as they shipped another five pointer.

A Collins penalty helped reduce the deficit but the half time break couldn’t come quickly enough.

Sheffield started the second half as they’d begun the first when Dave McCabe crashed over after just three minutes but the conversion went begging.

The euphoria didn’t last long as Cleckheaton breached the Sheffield defence once more to run in a converted try.

Ramzey Adamo replaced Chris Machen at tight head prop and three minutes later Laurence Thomas was stretchered off and Martin Balshaw took his place.

Sheffield were handed another penalty and this time Collins did the business and his side were back in the hunt at 22-18.

Again the joy was short lived as the home side burst through for match-winning try number five.

Sheffield: Liam Wallace, Ewan Reed, Joe Cribley, Dave McCabe, Alex Hill, Donal Collins, Matt Poste, Tommy Marples, Carl Mortimer, Chris Machen, John Dudley, Kyle Howard, Dave Ellis, Laurence Thomas, Andy Kelly (capt). Replacements: Ramzey Adamo, Matthew Delaney, Martin Balshaw.