Bourne and Deepings meet for the first time this season at Milking Nook Drove, Bourne, tomorrow at opposite ends of the form table.
Dave Maudsley’s Bourne XV have lost their last three games in league and cup, while Deepings are firing on both cylinders with both backs and forwards putting points on the board.
However, the Green Machine have lost on each of their league away trips at title contenders Sileby Town and Thorney.
So captain Lance Charity will be asking his side to take their unbeaten form at Linchfield Road 10 miles up the A15 to Bourne.
Charity said: “We’re excited and every one of the regular players who have been consistently training and playing is looking forward to it.
“Our backs have found their stride and we’re ready for the challenge of what I think is going to be a good game, with end-to-end stuff and a great contest.”
Deepings are obviously a strong side and with there being such a close distance between us, everyone will be wanting to get on and do their best wherever they canBourne full back Jack Lagdon
Bourne will be hoping to recapture the sparkling rugby that saw them get off to their best start to a season for five years after going through September unbeaten.
But they will face Deepings without Maudsley, centre Sam Thornburn, winger Donald Sweeting and flanker George Lindley, although skipper Tom Dixon is back after a three-week lay-off after of a mouth injury in losing at Wellingborough.
Dixon said: “We’ve got plenty of back-up which is nice to know considering that we’ll be up against Deepings.
“On the other hand, I’m a bit wary about my mouth because there’s still a few stitches in it.
“But hopefully, things will go well and we’ll come away with a few points.”
Bourne’s hopes of a good run in the Midlands Junior Vase ended when they went down 38-15 at Nottingham Moderns, ensuring there would be no repeat of their quarter-final showing last season.
Maudsley said: “We’ve got a squad with decent strength in depth, but a lot of them a young lads, whilst myself and Tom Dixon have been playing rugby for a long, long time.
“Whilst I’m not the solution to us regaining our form, I can help the lads when I’m on the pitch.
“I’ve not been around for very long, so I don’t have the same view of derby games as the guys who’ve been around the club for a lot longer than me.
“In my opinion, it doesn’t matter who you play against - it’s how well you play against all the sides that matters to me.”
Deepings have an extra incentive for winning at Bourne in that it will be the last game for club physio Ryan Flemming before he emigrates to Australia.
The Green Machine have named a provisional squad for tomorrow’s derby which shows three changes from the side that reached the semi-final of the Hunts and Peterborough Cup after a 46-25 home win over Huntingdon 2nds last weekend.
Jack Rogers replaces Jack Hart at open-side flanker, while Kelvin Squires and Luke Whitby return to the wings in place of Matt Morton and James McCaskie respectively.
Oli Peacock, who plays in Deepings’ second row tomorrow, said: “The atmosphere is very good at the rugby club and both skipper Lance Charity and coach Nobby Coupland have got everyone pulling in the same direction.
“The training we’re doing during the week is very focused towards the results we’ve been getting, whilst at the same time looking to improve those things that haven’t been going so well on a Saturday.
“Lance and Bobby are making sure that everyone is working from the same script and knows our options, if we need to use our Plan B.
“We’ve been doing a lot of physical work, with undertones of fitness, and everything we’ve been doing has been building towards the weekly clash on Saturdays, whoever the enemy we’re playing against.”
One of the success stories for Bourne so far this season has been full back Jack Berry who has grown in both consistency and confidence as the Milking Nook Drove men’s conversion and penalty kicker.
Berry, who may be played in either a wider or more central role against the Green Machine tomorrow, said: “On a personal note, I’m both excited and looking forward to the local derby.
“It’s a good chance for us to get back to winning ways - if we play anywhere near to our potential.
“We just need to ensure that we don’t let the occasion get the better of us, which has happened in previous encounters.
“If we stick to the basics and our gameplan then we’ll come away with the win.”
A key factor in tomorrow’s derby clash could be the penalty count which has undone both sides previously this season.
Charity said: “Every week, our penalty count is getting lower and we’re learning not to backchat to the referee and to keep back half a yard in the lineouts.
“As long as we don’t allow ourselves to be lowered to Bourne’s level, I’m confident in us winning the game.”
Bourne’s philosophy this season has been to hand opportunities to some of their up-and-coming players, including full back Jack Lagdon who said: “Deepings are obviously a strong side and with there being such a close distance between us, everyone will be wanting to get on and do their best wherever they can.
“We’ve had such a growth from last season that it’s a hard one to call as to who’ll be the stronger outfit.
“I guess the only way to find out will be on the day.”
Skipper Dixon added: “There’s a good team spirit at Bourne and everyone is working towards bringing what we do in training out onto the pitch.
“Last Saturday, at Nottingham Moderns in the Midlands Junior Vase, wasn’t our day and it was always going to happen.
“We were never going to carry on the way we were going, but we knew what we needed to work on at training on Wednesday and Saturday is a new day, with a new game.”
Tomorrow will be a first Bourne versus Deepings derby by Green Machine star full back Aram Jones who was in the Stamford College Old Boys XV that beat Bourne in last season’s NLD Intermediate Cup Final at Sleaford.
Other key men for Deepings will be try machine Gareth Silverwood, centre Dan Young and vice captain Phil Trotman who was man of the match in his side’s 46-25 win over Huntingdon 2nds in their Hunts and Peterborough Cup tie at Linchfield Road.
Peacock said: “There have been a large number of new faces brought into the club during the summer which has given us a lot of competition for places.
“It’s something that we’ve had to embrace for the first time in a while, but it means the lads have had to take their opportunities once it’s given to them and that’s very pleasing to see.
“I myself have been at the club for years and years and it’s the first time that I can remember it like this.
“As one of the older players in the team, I’m not the athlete I used to be so it’s pleasing to see the new pretenders coming through.
“I just hope the successes we’ve been having continue to make it a great season for Deepings.”