Vale of Lune have not played a competitive game of rugby since November 21, hardly an ideal scenario as they prepare to take on second in the table Kendal at Powderhouse Lane in the final league fixture of the year on Saturday.
Kendal have had the “luxury” of playing one game at Wilmslow on December 5, where they recorded a 33-12 victory to end the Cheshire side’s unbeaten run of 11 games.
On a stormy day the Kendal pack seized control and limited the high scoring Wilmslow side to a couple of tries. As the Vale are fully aware Kendal have the best defensive record in the league only conceding a miserly 152 points; their one defeat was at Kirkby Lonsdale in October, 24-19.
Undoubtedly the Vale face an enormous challenge against their long standing rivals who have already inflicted one defeat on them, 34-3, at Mint Bridge in the second game of the season.
In addition Kendal are bound to remember their last visit to The Lane in February when they lost 27-6; a result that not only ended Vale’s nightmare of losing nine games on the bounce but halted Kendal’s run of eight straight victories.
Despite their lack of game time the Vale are in good heart, they have, after all, won their last four games with a reasonably settled squad.
One of the problems of last season was being able to field an established side, but in the eleven games so far played, 35 players have made appearances including six making their debuts.
At a similar juncture in the 2014/15 season after nine league games and two warm up fixtures, 42 had pulled on the first team jersey with 14 debutants.
Ahead of the Kendal game, threequarters James Birchall, Fergus Owens, and forwards Sam Wallbank and Jack Ayrton have played in all 11 games.
Skipper Dan Baines and fellow forward Ross Pillow have missed one game, as have backs, Adam Macluskie, Jonty Higgin and Ben Dorrington.
Two versatile players, forward Andy Powers and threequarter Charlie Lomas have only missed a handful of games, while lock Tom Cvijanovic had made nine appearances before picking up an injury playing for the seconds over at Fylde at the end of November.
Ben Dorrington is the leading points scorer with 81, from his two tries, 16 conversions and 13 penalties. Sam Wallbank has scored seven tries, Fergus Owens six, which includes a hat-trick against Broughton Park.
Winger Al Crookall has scored three tries from his four senior starts.
There is a healthy pulse to be found throughout all the Vale’s senior sides which is perhaps not really reflected in their league positions.
The seconds are in 11th place in a very competitive and challenging Premier League and will be looking to kick on when a conference format begins in the New Year.
Spirits are high within the thirds and fourths, with the thirds in fifth place in Division Three North, while the fourths are tenth position in Rogerson HomeServe+ Division Four North.
Thanks to the efforts of Martin Powell the Veterans have reformed and they maintained their one hundred percent record over at Carnforth on Saturday with a 46-0 victory against Carnforth 2.
In addition to giving former players a chance to showcase their skills, which have lain dormant for a number of years, some have rediscovered their passion for the game and have thrown their hat into the ring for inclusion in the third and fourths, or possibly higher, on a regular basis.