Hull Ionians v 1stXV, Sat Apr 09, Match Preview
Ampthill Travel to Brantingham Park on Saturday after both sides were promoted from National 2 North last season, Ionians as Champions and Ampthill via the playoff.
Hull Ionians was formed in 1989 by the merger of Hull and East Riding with Ionians. Hull & East Riding were formed 1901 while Ionians formation was a little later, in 1926. H&ER played at a variety of locations before a merger in the early ’70s with Hull Spartans and an eventual move to the Circle. H&ER were one of Yorkshire’s leading teams providing many players to the County side. The advent of leagues in 1987 found H&ER playing in North 1.
Ionians had chosen a different path, one which saw them own their ground, Elloughton Road, and clubhouse with a thriving mini & youth system and a tradition of developing excellent players who went on to play at higher levels for other clubs. In 1987 Ionians 1stXV were playing in Yorkshire 3, some 6 levels below H&ER.
By 1994 Hull Ionians had negotiated the sale of the Elloughton ground for development for housing. The arrangement with the developer saw them acquire a new ground literally adjacent to the old one and construct a superb clubhouse facility known as Brantingham Park.
Hull Ionians were promoted to National 3 North (now National 2 North) in 2002, relegated the following season and promoted again in 2005. In 2013 the cycle was repeated as they were promoted to National 1 only to be immediately relegated and promoted again.
It is admirable that the club largely kept faith with the squad that saw them promoted, relegated and promoted again. The current team has one of the strongest forward packs in National 1 with an excellent set piece.
Ionians have slipped down the National 1 table in recent weeks having won just 2 of their last 16 games They lie 13th, with a played 26 won 7 record just 1 place but 9 pts ahead of Wharfedale who currently occupy the last of the relegation positions.
Last week Ampthill demolished Plymouth Albion at home with what was certainly the most efficient 80 minutes yet seen at Dillingham Park. Having beaten Hartpury (2nd), Plymouth (3rd) and drawn away at leaders Richmond in the past month Amps have far exceeded their connections expectations in this, their debut season in National 1.
Amps lie 3rd in the table, just 5 pts behind Hartpury and 15 pts behind top of the table Richmond with 4 games to play and now look like achieving a top 6 result.
A’s squad sees a number of changes this week, up front Paino Hehea (lock) and William Evans (openside), fresh from making his Aviva Premiership debut for Leicester Tigers, both start. In the backs Gavin Williams rotates to scrum half from the bench while Conor Bullivant returns on the wing and the bench sees back row Kiefer Laxton make his debut after recovering from a season long injury while scrum half Thomas Aviss is promoted from the 1881s.
Hull Ionians teamsheet will be published here as soon as available