Hull Ionians v 1stXV, Sat Nov 19, Match Preview
Ampthill travel to Brantingham Park on Saturday for another chapter in the recent rivalry between the two clubs.
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 last season with the squad that saw them promoted, relegated and promoted again. Renowned for having a strong forward pack with an excellent set piece they have this year added an attacking dimension through pacy backs.
Ionians have slipped down the National 1 table in recent weeks having won just 1 of their last 7 games. They lie 14th, with a played 11 won 3 record, however, three of their home losses, against clubs in the top 5, have seen them earn a losing bonus point.
Last week however, they went down 66-14 at Blaydon, fellow bottom three strugglers.
Ampthill defeated Coventry 22-8 at home in a fascinating forward battle which was only resolved in the last 10 minutes by two trademark catch & drive tries.
Amps squad sees the return of our dual registered players following their absence playing in the British & Irish Cup, sadly it would appear that Northampton Saints prop Matt Beesley will not be returning as his performances in the B&I cup have seen him added to Saints 1stXV squad, we wish him the very best for his undoubted future Premiership career.
Up front Nick Isiekwe returns at lock with Ben Earl at openside, there are no changes in the backs while the bench sees the return of hooker James Fish, flanker Joe Bercis rotates and a debut for new Saints DR scrum half Alex Mitchell.