Rugby: Late tests for Stoke duo
STOKE are sweating on the fitness of James Cordall and Simon Price as they go to Hereford hoping to get back on the winning trail.
Number eight Cordall (ankle) and centre Price (shoulder) are both rated at no more than 50/50 for the trip south, while player-coach Tom Hughes (hamstring) is also still struggling.
The Barlaston side lost 22-19 to local rivals Burton on Saturday, which followed a 34-23 reverse at Lichfield seven days previously.
They are frustrated in having had to deal with back-to-back defeats in the league for the first time since late 2010, but no one is panicking just yet.
Coach Simon Ascroft said: "We have been disappointed because we haven't played anywhere near our potential.
"In both games we have given scores away, which is something we haven't done for two years.
"But we feel we could have actually won both games. It's not been the end of the world because we know we are not too far off the pace."
Second-row Peter Wilshaw, who made his first start of the season against Burton, believes the higher calibre of opposition in Midlands One West North means Stoke have to be on their mettle from the first whistle.
He explained: "Last season we could probably play well for 60 minutes and afford to switch off for 20 without getting punished.
"If that happens this year, like it did against Burton, we will concede three tries.
"Those defeats, against teams who are probably going to be in the top four, have given us a benchmark to work towards."
UTTOXETER will renew their acquaintances with the Midlands Junior Vase on Saturday when they host Birmingham Barbarians of the Midlands Five West (North) division.
Relegated Uttoxeter have won their opening two games of the Midlands Four West (North) season, beating Five Ways 22-17, a game in which forward Bruce Mustard was handed his debut.
CREWE AND NANTWICH will hope to get back on the winning trail when they entertain point-less Ashton-on-Mersey in South Lancs/Cheshire One.
Geoff Crawford's side have won one and lost two of their opening four fixtures, including slipping to a 31-26 defeat at the hands of Wigan last weekend.
IN South Lancs/Cheshire Three, rock bottom LINLEY AND KIDSGROVE make the tricky trip to Prenton, who have started the season with three wins.
TRENTHAM, who thrashed Holmes Chapel 40-17 on Saturday, are at home to Knutsford, while CONGLETON are at Helsby.