Rugby returns with a difficult start for Diss
A MONTH of virtually no rugby is now behind us with a full league programme anticipated in the first playing weekend of 2011.
In National League 3, Diss face a tough start to the new year when they travel to high-flying Hertford. The Norfolk side are currently anchored at the foot of the table while their opponents are close to the top having lost just once all season.
Diss will know they have to quickly reverse their fortunes if they are to maintain their lofty status in East Anglian rugby circles, but form suggests they will return empty-handed.
Colchester were unexpectedly hammered in their last game before Christmas at home to Sidcup and as a result they slid to fourth place in London 1.
They will be expected to return to winning ways when bottom side Letchworth Garden City visit their Mile End Road Ground.
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Towards the end of the year, Bury St Edmunds were developing fine form after a slow start, but they have a difficult away match at Old Colfeians with both sides closely positioned in the table.
Beccles are struggling at the foot of London 2 and they start the year with a difficult game away to promotion contenders Braintree. Elsewhere, improving Ipswich host Saffron Walden looking for a win, and a good margin, which would see them leapfrog their opponents. Ipswich coach Aaron Brown is optimistic having boosted his first team ranks with two new players who have recently moved to the area.
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Sudbury, who have won just once away from home this season, will try to improve on this grim statistic, but face a challenging trip to Romford and Gidea Park. A victory for this young, developing Sudbury side is likely to be beyond their current capabilities.
Newmarket have had a tremendous run over the past few seasons and they now stand proudly in second position in London 3. They will expect to maintain their progress when they visit South Woodham Ferrers while a close encounter is predicted when Mersea Island travel to Upminster, both sides currently at the wrong end of the league.
Stowmarket enjoyed a fantastic first half of their Eastern Counties 1 season, averaging 40 points per match and sitting seven points clear at the top. They travel to Fakenham where they will be expected to overcome their Norfolk opponents.
A competent Harwich & Dovercourt side are enjoying their first season in the league and should give Crusaders a run for their money at their seaside ground.
Meanwhile, Thurston, who are too close to the bottom of the table for comfort, entertain Southwold hoping that 2011 will bring a change to their fortunes.
Woodbridge entertain high-flying Cantabrigian and struggling Haverhill and District face a difficult task at home to West Norfolk.
In Eastern Counties 2, Ipswich YM will look to maintain their unbeaten status when they play host to Swaffham while Hadleigh and Mistley will be hoping home advantage counts when they are visited by Thetford and Felixstowe respectively.
In the Essex Canterbury Jack League 1, Brightlingsea travel to Pegasus Palmerians in what should be a close game with both sides having similar playing records.