Heathens targeting Wight start to new year

Rikky Curtis   Picture: Mick Young
Rikky Curtis Picture: Mick Young
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Title-chasing Fareham Heathens are aiming to start the new year with a bang as they host Isle of Wight at Cams Alders.

The original Hampshire one meeting between the two sides before Christmas was abandoned.

In that game, a visiting player suffered a badly-broken leg and the referee brought a halt to the proceedings.

Since then, Heathens have given their title ambitions a massive boost with an excellent win at league-leaders Bognor.

It was a first league loss of the season for the Sussex side, allowing Heathens to end the year on the crest of a wave.

Senior coach Bernie Rhodes wants his team to produce the same level of determination in the second half of the season.

‘The win at Bognor was massive for us,’ said Rhodes.

‘It is up to us now to maintain that same level of commitment in all our remaining games.

‘In the first half of the season we went about our work diligently and the results have followed.

‘There were a few games, however, when we started slowly and had to work hard to get the win.

‘I am looking for the players to have even more belief in themselves in all the games.

‘If we are to maintain realistic title hopes we must apply the same amount of effort in all of the games.’

Rhodes is also wary of the Isle of Wight and their potential to cause an upset.

They showed enough in the aborted game to suggest they won’t be an easy nut to crack.

Heathens are without influential wing-forward Matt Smith, who is away on a skiing holiday.

Fellow flanker Mike West makes a welcome return, while forwards Richard Green and Rikky Curtis are also available for selection.

‘If we can reproduce the level of our Bognor performance, then I can see nothing but a win,’ added Rhodes.

‘It is important that we rid ourselves of any Christmas excesses as quickly as possible.’

Basement club Locks Heath Pumas face a daunting home test against title-chasing Millbrook.