Bees and Stourbridge face each other on Saturday week in a match that will see one set of New Year hopes severely dented and another given a timely impetus.
Indeed, even after they go their separate ways following their clash at Stourton Park, the likelihood is their horns will remain metaphorically locked as they both pursue the same prize – National One safety.
Although the league table suggests one Midland club is far better off than the other, third-bottom Stour have a two-place and 14-point lead over Birmingham & Solihull, the thing that unifies them is their desperation to make 2012 the year of the Great Escape.
“I’m optimistic,” says Stour’s director of rugby Neil Mitchell. “It’s going to be a fight and it will only be one point that decides whether we stay or go and I’ll tell the players that.”
Mitchell has targeted at least 66 points to ensure safety and believes the patronage of clubs further up the rugby pyramid is going to be a crucial factor.
“The dogfight will come down to assistance. The enhanced sides will be the successful ones and the ones that survive because there is not a lot between any of the clubs in the league, bar the odd exception.
“There’s us, Cinderford, you can’t write Bees off, much will depend on how Blaydon (Newcastle) Falconise and if Wharfedale beat Bees on Saturday they are going to be 14 points above us.”
That means Stour’s main hope of survival is how many young Warriors arrive from Sixways. Ollie Frost and James Currie featured in their last match, a win over Coventry, and the availability of that pair is vital for the trip to Fylde this weekend.
As for Bees, they too hope the Worcester tree of plenty sheds a few fruity youngsters their way and they are also trying to bring some familiar faces back to Damson Park.
Mark Woodrow, from Stourbridge, and Anthony Elliott have already committed and there could be even more exciting news on the horizon.
“The plan for 2012 is for us to stay up,” says player-coach Russell Earnshaw. “My level of belief is high, we have worked hard over Christmas, we have boiled down what we are doing, we have got more buy in and clarity and we have got some key players coming back.”
Not least Matt Long, Ngalu Tau, Mark Hopley and Jack Preece – half of Bees’ first-choice pack, who should all return from injury this weekend.
And Woodrow, in his fourth spell at Bees, could turn out to be an important addition, perhaps at scrum-half where Warwick Lahmert has been bought out of his contract. Elliott will also bring know-how and confidence to a backline that has been their Achilles heel.