Away game takes on crucial proportions

OLD Brodleians head north again on Saturday when they visit Gateshead, 2.15pm.

After five successive North 1 East defeats in a row, the Hipperholme club simply have to win to arrest an alarming slide in results which has seen them tumble far too close to the relegation places.

A win at Gateshead has taken on even greater significance after last week’s 21 - 0 defeat at Morpeth.

After the improved display against Billingham, Brods had travelled with a strong squad and confident of picking up the points.

It was a frustrating day for coaches Ian Armitage and Clive Harris, and the players as they failed to impose themselves on a strong Morpeth side, and after trailing only 5 - 0 with 10 minutes to play and looking like snatching a result, some late indisicpline and missed tackles left them with nothing.

Brods have already beaten Gateshead this season by 52 - 18 in an impressive early season performance at Woodhead.

Brods were at strength and full of confidence and tore their visitors apart on the firm surface.

The conditions at Gateshead will be much different and Brods will have to contend with a big pack on heavier ground.

This will be made easier with the expected return of captain Luke Scrimshaw, who has missed the last four games with a rib injury.

Scrimshaw is Brods biggest ball carrier and his influence has been keenly felt.

He will get his team going forward and draw defenders to him, opening up space elsewhere.

The pack will be relatively unchanged but for Scrimshaw’s return and the injury to prop Dom Cooper, who will miss this week.

Jonjo Ward should return after missing the Morpeth game with a knee injury.

Lee Scrimshaw, James Dale and James Ogden will be in contention for starting places along with Chris Hartley, Stevie Shaw and Jordan Shiel from the second team.

Rob Jennings is carrying a slight neck injury but should be fit to take his place in the 18.

The backs did not have much opportunity to impress last week but Armitage is still searching for the right combinations.

Michael Briggs impressed on the wing and Brods will look to get him more ball to use his powerful running.

Danny Wood has a shoulder injury and will undergo a fitness test on Thursday to see if he can start.

Brods have options from the seconds with Ian Mallard, Adam Standeven, Nathan Scott, Tom Booth and Eddie Carter all in good form and pushing for places.

There is no doubting the talent within the squad as has been shown over the past few seasons, but it is now a mental ability that the players must show.

Brods will rely on the players selected to get them out of the poor run of form.

Training is good and well attended but the players have to produce the performances on the pitch to pick up what are now vital wins.