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Longlevens looking forward to big Counties 1 Western North showdown with Nailsea & Backwell

All Areas > Sport > Rugby Union

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Monday, 22nd January 2024, 13:00

Longlevens celebrate last season’s North Gloucestershire Combination Senior Cup final win at Kingsholm Longlevens celebrate last season’s North Gloucestershire Combination Senior Cup final win at Kingsholm

Longlevens go head-to-head with Nailsea & Backwell on Saturday in what is sure to be a barnstorming Counties 1 Western North clash.

There has been little to choose between the two clubs all season but Longlevens have just managed to get their noses in front since the turn of the year, albeit they have played one game more.

The Gloucester club hold a one point advantage, having won 14 and lost one of their 15 games league games, with the defeat – 29-14 – coming at Nailsea in mid-October.

Nailsea remain unbeaten but their 31-31 draw at Clifton 2nds at the start of the month ended their perfect start to the campaign and allowed Longlevens to grab pole position.

It’s set up perfectly for the weekend and Longlevens director of rugby Andy Deacon said: “We’ve got ourselves into a position where we are on top of the table and Saturday’s game will obviously have a significant impact on the rest of the season.”

It certainly will and Longlevens go into the game full of confidence on the back of a remarkable record that has seen them unbeaten at home in the league for close to five years, including a 50-12 win at home to Nailsea last season.

“It’s a record we want to keep going,” said Deacon, a former Gloucester captain. “We’re expecting a big crowd on Saturday. They will create a good atmosphere and we appreciate their support, it’s a big occasion for the club.”

And the club have been getting used to big occasions over the past year or so.

Last season was one of the best in their 70-year history as they won the North Gloucestershire Combination Senior Cup for the first time in more than 60 years, beating Matson 42-32 at Kingsholm, a victory that followed their Papa John’s Community Cup Counties 1 South Plate final success at the StoneX Stadium, home of Saracens, a week earlier when they beat Twickenham 24-11.

“We’ve got a strong squad with some good exciting young players,” Deacon continued. “We’ve got plenty of depth, I can pick from 25 players.”

Longlevens finished third in the league last season, one point and one place above Nailsea, and a bonus-point win on Saturday would certainly put them in a strong position.  

“It could be in our hands after Saturday but it’s not a cup final, it’s not winner takes all,” warned Deacon. “We will then have six games left, so you can see the finish line but there will still be a lot of rugby to be played.

“We’ll still have some difficult games – Cinderford 2nds away, Old Bristolians away, Old Redcliffians 2nds away, they are very, very difficult games.”

Cinderford 2nds are currently in third spot, 10 points adrift of Longlevens but with a game in hand.

They have lost just two games this season – they were beaten 26-10 at Longlevens at the start of December – so their supporters will still believe that last season’s champions can have a big say in the title race, especially as they host Nailsea next month.

They’ve been piling up the points too – 592 in their 14 games – although not as many as Longlevens who have scored 704 points with 132 of them coming this year in hefty wins over Midsomer Norton and Chipping Sodbury.

“We have beaten some teams quite comfortably but we’ve had to work hard for those wins,” said Deacon, for whom winning the title would mean an awful lot.

“I live in Longlevens,” he said. “I played for the club – I made my debut when I was 15 – and my brother Mark played 500 games for the club. This club is very important to me.”

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