Big crowd expected for derby day in Hull

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rugby union: More than 1,000 people are expected at Brantingham Park today for the derby match between Hull Ionians and Hull.

The two East Yorkshire clubs go head-to-head in the game of the day in National Two North.

Ionians head coach Gary Pearce, whose side came from 24-3 down to beat Sheffield Tigers on the opening weekend, said: “There’s a lot of pride at stake and derby games are always exciting.

“Hopefully, we can get a crowd of more than 1,000 through our gates and the weather is good and we will have two teams playing expansive rugby.

“Hull had a better year than us last year, they finished above us and they won the Yorkshire Cup, and it will be a good challenge for all of our players.”

The ambition for Ionians this year is to finish as high up the league as possible after a number of seasons spent battling relegation from the fourth tier.

Hull’s director of rugby Chris Murphy is hoping for improvement across the board from his side this season.

Following a narrow opening-day defeat to Bromsgrove, when their early-season injury problems only intensified, Murphy is conscious that publicising targets may be detrimental to his squad in the long run.

To that end, he said: “We just want to keep improving.

“We set ourselves targets internally but the priority for us is we want to improve on our defence, on our attack and on our discipline. The aim is to do better than we did last season.

“We’ve retained the players we wanted to keep and we’ve got some good, young players coming through, and that’s important.”