Rugby: Teasdale looks to banish Ecclehsall's relegation threat
STEVE Teasdale admits continuing to steer resurgent ECCLESHALL away from the bottom two will remain the focus at Baden Hall.
A run of tough away fixtures at the start of the campaign left coach Teasdale and his troops stuck at the wrong end of Midlands Three West (North).
A sharp upturn in form, capped with a fine 36-24 win over promotion-chasing Bloxwich last time out, has lifted Eccleshall out of immediate relegation troubles.
But in 10th, they still sit 16 points adrift of ninth-placed Burntwood and the tightly-packed masses all above right up to title rivals Willenhall and Newcastle.
Teasdale said: "We were hoping for somewhere in the top half this season, but now it's more about making sure we stay clear of the bottom two.
"We have the bottom two (Yardley and Cleobury Mortimer) at home coming up in the next few weeks and hopefully we can continue to nudge our way up the table."
This weekend, Eccleshall make the trip to Handsworth, who they beat 9-8 in a nail-biter back in October.
On paper it is another tough fixture, with Handsworth, in fourth, hoping to break into the promotion spots.
But Teasdale said: "When we manage to get ball in hands like we did against Bloxwich we look very impressive.
"It doesn't look like anyone is going to run away at the top this season and we have already seen some topsy-turvy results.
"Handsworth will be looking for revenge for us beating them in the league, but we still haven't forgiven them for beating us in the cup last season. It should be a good match."
Second-placed NEWCASTLE host leaders Willenhall knowing that the right result could haul them back to the top.
Well-drilled Willenhall won 16-14 when the two sides met earlier in the campaign, but it is likely to be a different story when they clash at Lilleshall Road.
Castle, propelled into promotion contention by their powerful backs, are still without centre Jonny Sale (ankle), full-back George White (ankle) and flanker Wayne Scott (knee).
But tight-head prop Ant Cornwall (knee), half-backs Tom Martin (knee) and Ash Martin (neck) and number eight Chris Miller (ankle) are nearer comebacks.