JUST EIGHT games stand in the way of Pulborough winning their league and reaching the highest level in the club’s 44 year history.
The Black and Whites emerge from a two-week Christmas break leading the way in Sussex 1 by a healthy margin and knowing the success of their season lies in their own hands.
“We got a bit of a reality check away at Rye but generally it’s going really well,” club captain Richard Nicholls said.
“The club is in a really good place at the moment, there’s a really positive atmosphere and everyone seems to be enjoying their rugby, but no one is taking anything for granted.
“We’re only halfway through the season so nothing’s been won just yet.”
With ten games gone Boro lead the way by nine points ahead of East Grinstead II. With only one team from the division promoted to London 3 South East – the league Horsham compete in – Boro go into the new year as clear favourites, especially as a Second team cannot win promotion, meaning Burgess Hill and Holbrook, some 14 points back, are their real rivals for promotion.
As well as the league Boro are still in the Junior Vase, and take on Surrey 1 side Croydon at home in Round 3 on January 21, a game Nicholls is relishing as a sideshow to the league.
A big morale-boosting win at Holbrook sent Boro into the Christmas break on a high and they emerge this Saturday hoping struggling Eastbourne II will provide the perfect fodder to begin just where they left off.
Since regaining their Sussex 1 status in 2000, Pulborough’s best finish was last season’s top four place, meaning they have never had a better shot at the league title then now.
But according to Nicholls the continuation of their development is even more important then instant success.
He said: “We will have to work extremely hard to try and win this league. But if we don’t go up it won’t be the end of the world, what’s even more important is that the club keeps building and getting better.”
Individuals such as Ewan Calloway and Will Akers, the current joint top Boro try scorers, Alex Ryan, who has been outstanding with his kicking, and Nicholls’ brand of level headed leadership and hard rugby have driven the side forward, although as always the coaches insist Pulborough’s strength lies in their team ethic.
Head coach Ed Rydon said: “We are playing sensible rugby, adapting to what is in front of us on the pitch, with the ability to wear teams down by playing 80 minutes of rugby.”
Pulborough’s great rivals Holbrook also return to action this Saturday with a stern test away at second-placed East Grinstead II. Their skipper Mark Devlin refused to write off their own promotion chances, saying: “I don’t think anything is out of a question with the bizarre results the league has thrown up.
“We are aiming to push for our highest possible finish but we have to work towards finding more constancy, because injuries and unavailabilities have impacted on our season so far.”
Another side targeting a more consistent second half of the season is Horsham, who are well placed in fourth in London 3 South East and go to Eastbourne this weekend.
Pictured are Alex Ryan with skipper Richard Nicholls behind.