Peterborough Lions are facing the toughest possible start to 2019.
The Bretton-based side, who are bottom of National League Two North, kick off the New Year with a home game at Solstice Park (2.15pm) against Hull Ionians, who are perched at the top of the table.
It’s a daunting task for Vili Ma’asi’s boys but one they are relishing.
Director of rugby Simon Moyle is convinced the Lions can cause a shock.
He said: “We played so well to get a 19-19 draw at Hinckley in our last game before Christmas. It was super stuff and if we can pick up where we left off then I can see us getting a result, especially with home advantage.
“To draw with a top side like Hinckley, at Hinckley, was a massive result. And yet we all felt slightly disappointed not to have won it - that’s how well we played.
“It was a fantastic all-round team effort and our record for December - two wins and a draw from four matches - is certainly not relegation form. The lads are all determined to keep that run going as we continue our fight for National League survival.”
Hull may be three points clear at the summit but they certainly didn’t finish 2018 with a flourish.
In fact they had a bit of a mid-season wobble and lost two of their four December fixtures - 17-0 at Leicester Lions and 29-7 at Preston Grasshoppers - and only just managed to see off struggling Macclesfield at home 18-16.
Hull beat the Lions 34-12 when they met in September.
There’s also a tough start to 2019 for Midlands Division One sides Oundle and Peterborough.
Oundle welcome Paviors to Occupation Road (2.15pm) in a crunch promotion battle. Oundle are third in the table, just two points behind Paviors and league leaders Kettering.
Revenge will also be on the menu for Oundle, who were beaten 26-17 when the two sides met in Nottingham in September.
Oundle have won their last seven fixtures.
Borough are at home to Old Northamptonians (2.15pm) and will also be after a slice of revenge having lost 12-5 at ONs earlier in the campaign.
Phil Powell’s side are enjoying a great run of form. They’re unbeaten in eight games - seven of which were victories - and have risen to fourth in the table.
SATURDAY JANUARY 5
ENGLISH CLUBS CHAMPIONSHIP
National League Division Two North: Peterborough Lions v Hull Ionians.
Midlands Division One: Oundle v Paviors, Peterborough v Old Northamptonians .
Midlands Division Two East (South): St Ives v Huntingdon.
Midlands Division Three East (South): Stamford v Bourne.
Midlands Division Three East (North): Spalding v Belper.
Midlands Division Four East (South): Stamford College Old Boys v Kempston, Thorney v Deepings.
London Division Three Eastern Counties: Wisbech v Thurston.
SUNDAY JANUARY 6
WOMEN’S NATIONAL CHALLENGE
Midlands Division One: Peterborough v Rugby Lionesses (2pm).