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Martin Whitcombe warns Old Grovians to stay grounded
Old Grovians are entering the final straight of their SSE Yorkshire Division Four season but director of rugby Martin Whitcombe has warned them to not look past their next game.
His team may be seven points clear of second-placed Old Otliensians with five games left but that seems sound advice given that they are hosting fourth-placed Mosborough on Saturday (3pm).
It is Old Grovians' first appearance at Elm Tree Farm since they produced arguably their best performance of the season in beating promotion rivals Harrogate Pythons to take charge of their own destiny.
However, Mosborough travel to Apperley Bridge knowing that they must win to keep their promotion hopes alive and, whether winning or losing, the south Yorkshire side have been in the hunt in nearly every game this season, claiming an impressive 14 bonus points from their 17 games.
Whitcombe, who insists that looking beyond Mosborough would be a huge mistake for his side, said: "If you want to be successful in this league, teams like Ossett and Mosborough are the yardstick by which we all have to measure ourselves.
"Mosborough ask teams questions - they are very workmanlike and well coached.”
When the two met in early November, it was a tight, hard-fought affair which Old Grovians won 17-10.
That defeat remains the only loss Mosborough have suffered at home this season and gives them a huge incentive to reverse that result on Saturday.
Ben Brown's near-faultless kicking display in that game earned him the man of the match award, constantly forcing Mosborough deep inside their own half and proved that Old Grovians have depth at key positions with fly half Adam Weaving missing the game through injury.
Whitcombe believes it was a big moment in the season for Old Grovians . . . and Brown himself, who had been the starting fly half before switching to full back at the beginning of this season.
“He is a role model for any player wanting to play at Old Grovians. We challenged Ben to change position and look at his game - he is now a stand-out player for the team.”
That is high praise indeed from a man who rarely gives much away, preferring to maintain a level- headed, focused approach, which he'll expect his side to adopt against Mosborough.
Liam Downes, Matt Worrall and Ryan Brown are doubtful for the game, while Brad Williams will have a late fitness test but is expected to play.
Jack Baker and Dean Hogg return to the squad but John Oakes, Anthony Cadman and Ben Magee are all unavailable.
Old Grovians (home to Mosborough) from: C Blackhall, J Trenholme, D Gullick, D Roberts, C Cockshott, D Foster, B Williams, T Dalton, J Baker, B Williams, R Brown, B Weaving, S Robinson, M Worrall, A Lesur, J Bradley, J Hinchliffe, A Weaving, J Sowden, D Copsey, A Griffin, D Hogg, R Sharrocks, B Brown.