Eastleigh have all eyes on derby date

First published in Non League Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Rugby correspondent and sub-editor

Eastleigh are aiming for a confidence-boosting start to 2013 as they look to consolidate their impressive start to life in London 3 South-West.

They host an unpredictable Sandown & Shanklin tomorrow – giving them an opportunity to chalk up their first league double of the season after winning 15-10 on the Island back in September.

Eastleigh captain Russell Smith insists his club takes one league game at a time but knows a win will go some way to preparing his first XV troops for another derby in a couple of weeks – away at leaders Winchester.

Smith, pictured right, said: “I think the way coaches are looking at it is that we have to get a good result under our belt for Winchester.

“They beat us comfortably here but I saw enough in the first half to make me think they are beatable. They are a good side, and well organised but they can be beaten.”

First Eastleigh must get the better of The Hurricanes. The Island side have only won two games – impressively winning at Ellingham and Bognor – but have run sides close enough to have picked up plenty of losing bonus points.

“We know Sandown of old and have played them many times in the past and know what they are capable of. We need to win to stay with the leading pack rather than being pulled back with the others.”

Eastleigh will be without experienced Paul Fudio, who faces a disciplinary hearing at the end of the month after being red carded.

Winchester travel to Bognor as they looked to protect their nine-point lead at the top of London 3 South-West. The North Walls side earned the advantage with a brilliant 25-7 success over second-placed Weybridge Vandals in the last game before the festive break.

Winch have not looked back since their opening day defeat at the hands of Ellingham & Ringwood last September.

They won the next ten league games on the bounce and head to West Sussex knowing they were clear winners – 74-7 – the last time the two sides met.

See today's Daily Echo for full preview's of all the weekend's rugby action.

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