KIRKBY Lonsdale will face a stern test when they come up against North Premier title hopefuls Billingham on Saturday.

The black, red and amber side has been on a wretched run of form since the start of 2020, losing at home to Harrogate 30-16, going down 54-24 at home to Macclesfield, defeated 30-10 at Blackburn and beaten 25-18 at home by Alnwick, with a 10-5 victory at Carlisle the only highlight during that period.

That sticky patch was halted with a 15-7 win on the Wirral earlier this month and Kirkby will now hope to build on that result after a free weekend which allowed them to rest and recharge ahead of the final run-in.

Billingham are not in much better shape as they have been on a particularly poor run of form themselves, having demolished Ilkley 53-0 but lost their previous five games before that, with a 32-19 defeat at Morpeth, a 24-5 loss at home to Blaydon, a narrow 23-20 defeat at Lymm, a 27-12 loss against Rossendale and a 35-26 defeat at Sandal.

Despite that spell of bad results, this weekend’s opposition remain in the title hunt and are three places and just eight points behind league leaders Blaydon with seven games of the season to go to give them hope that they can lift the trophy still.

Kirkby meanwhile have little to play for on paper, with no prospect of lifting the league title while they are well clear of the bottom sides and in no danger of finishing at the foot of the table.

Just one game was played in the division last weekend, with mid-table Blackburn welcoming struggling Carlisle and running out comfortable 60-12 winners.

This weekend is scheduled to see a full slate of fixtures played, with the other games seeing Carlisle host Alnwick, Wirral go to Harrogate, Macclesfield entertain Blackburn, Lymm visit Morpeth, Ilkley travel to Rossendale and Sandal play at home to Blaydon.

After this weekend, Kirkby will start their final run of fixtures when they hit the road to Rossendale on March 7 before hosting Lymm on March 14.

A daunting trip to current favourites Blaydon awaits on March 21 before the Cumbrians finish their fixtures with a home game against Morpeth on March 28, a trip to Ilkley on April 4 and the visit of Sandal on April 18.