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It's win at all costs for Blues

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Trip to lowly Lydney sets a testing end to the year

Josh Love - joins the injured list
Josh Love - joins the injured list

NEWBURY BLUES set out on Saturday to avoid ending a memorable year on a low note by tumbling into the bottom three in the South West Premier League when they head over the water to Lydney.

A depleted Blues’ defeat at Exmouth last week sent them back into that place just outside the drop zone, and against a Lydney side desperate for points to avoid being cast adrift in the basement.

And Blues will again be forced to rejig and reshuffle in the wake of injuries and unavailability as they go to Regentsholme, the scene of some memorable past clashes with the Severnsiders.

Last week’s game saw Josh Love and Duncan Craigen join the injury list which, in
addition to long-term losses, has Ryan Trevaskis still sidelined by a hip injury and Dylan Stewart still out after having an operation to set his broken nose, while scrum half Joe Pigott will be a late call after he sustained a shoulder injury at Exmouth.

Josh Bartlett, George Robinson-Slater, Jon Bastable and last week’s debutant James Lewis also miss out and, said head coach Lee Goodall: “We have injuries across the board and we are looking to use the depth of our squad again.”

There are pluses in that hooker Robbie Drysdale, lock Adam Neal, scrum half Anthony Hackett and backs Conor Segre and Rhys Davies are all available as Blues bid to wipe out the downturn suffered on the Devon coast.

“They had a big pack and we didn’t win much set-piece,” said Goodall. “On the positive side, we kept going and were still going when they tired and I think we deserved a bonus point.

“This is a tough game to have at this time of the year, but that’s what we are in it for and we need to go there and get five points.

“That would give us 30 and in a relatively healthy spot,” he said, “but a loss this week puts us in quite a vulnerable spot.”

Lydney recently parted with experienced coach Jason Forster after only four games in charge, but have picked up a group of players from the now defunct Gloucester All Golds rugby league club, which also had Lydney backs coach and former Birmingham-Solihull player Brett Scriven on the books.

“They will look at this game as one they can win,” said Goodall, “but we are acutely aware of the challenge it imposes and the importance of this game.

“It’s winner takes all really.”

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