A NICE cushion at the top of the league is Ludlow head coach Mikey Jones’ early Christmas wish as chalk meets cheese in a huge top-of-the-table clash at The Linney on Saturday.

Midlands Two West North leaders Ludlow welcome nearest challengers Tamworth – who sit two points behind Jones’ men – in a top-two tussle in the last fixture before the winter break.

While Ludlow have scored a league-high 397 points in their ten matches – averaging almost 40 a game – Tamworth’s title bid has been built on more modest wins.

Jones said: “To go into Christmas potentially six points up on Tamworth would be lovely.

“If somebody had told me we would be top at Christmas, I’d have taken that – but now we are top, that’s where we want to remain all the way through the season.

“It’s a massive game – first vs second – but the way we are playing at the moment, I believe we can beat anybody at home, so we are quietly confident.

“Tamworth are very much based around their forwards so it will be a game of contrasting styles.

“They will come to try to bully us up front and we have to try to set our backs going as they can rip any side apart.”

Jones believes it is a four-horse race – featuring third-placed Wolverhampton and fourth-placed Camp Hill - for the top two spots, insisting ‘the top four are miles ahead of the rest’.

But he was delighted with the way Ludlow dug in to win 34-12 at struggling Stafford last weekend amid torrential downpours.

Jones added: “The conditions were terrible and it was a wet pitch that favoured Stafford more than us but we showed our class.”

Early tries from Will Sparrow and Joe Doyle handed Ludlow a 12-0 lead but Stafford fired back to level at 12-12 with two quickfire scores.

A Sparrow penalty edged Ludlow ahead at the break and they dominated the second half as tries from Sparrow, Charlie Doyle and Jack Small sealed victory.