Shield defence is a ‘priority’ for Haverhill

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Haverhill face Mistley in the last four of the Suffolk Shield on Saturday with the defence of the trophy they won for the first time last season at stake.

The meeting between the two sides will also present an opportunity for Haverhill to avenge the 39-13 defeat at Mistley in their Greene King IPA Eastern Counties Division Two encounter back in early October.

Scrutiny of the two sides’ league form (Haverhill have won three out of six and Mistley three out of five) would imply it should be a close match at Castle Playing Fields on Saturday (2pm kick off).

Haverhill’s chairman of the playing side, Dave Halsey, believes though, that the home team will have the edge.

He said: “They beat us at their ground. It was one of those games where we went there with a weaker side.

“We couldn’t get our strongest team out because some players had family or work commitments, but with our home games there’s more chance of us getting our stronger team out.

“It’s looking very positive at the moment (for Saturday).

“There’s a few teams in the league that don’t travel very well and Mistley is one of those.

“The positive side for us is that we know what they threw at us in the league game and our biggest commitment from the club’s point of view is that we want to retain the shield.

“We will be preparing to throw it back at them.”

Haverhill are waiting on the fitness of fly-half and first choice kicker Jake Jeffs, whose ankle injury has sidelined him for the past two weeks.

Ricky Brown will also miss out after breaking his hand in the 12-10 loss to Norwich Unio.

But despite his absence and the doubts over Jeffs, Haverhill look set to field a strong line up.

The winners of Saturday’s tie will face either Felixstowe or Brightlingsea in the final at Castle Playing Fields on December 1.

The Suffolk Shield winner then qualifies for the Suffolk Plate, and have already been drawn to play at Clacton in the quarter final on December 22.

Before that though, Haverhill need to hold on the trophy they won last season.

Halsey said: “It’s very important to the club, so we want to get ourselves in the final and we would like to win it again to hold on to it because it would be the first time in the club’s history we would have done it.”