CHESTER believe the defeat of North One leaders Hull by their Humberside rivals Hull Ionians last weekend has thrown the promotion race open.
Hull's first loss of the season allowed Preston Grasshoppers to take top spot, but Chester's director of rugby Steve Dorrington says the Lancashire club could be in a false position.
'By a quirk of the fixture list Preston have played six of their eight games at home, so I am not sure their position at the top is a true reflection of their ability' he said.
'Before Christmas we have four matches against teams from below us, two of them at home, while the leading teams have to play each other. We want to do a Cliff Richard and be number one by Christmas!'
Chester take on Middlesbrough at Hare Lane tomorrow (2.15) as hot favourites to collect two more points following their win at Liverpool-St Helens. The Teessiders have won only one of their eight matches so far conceding nearly 200 points.
Added Dorrington: 'Middlesbrough came up last season and we don't know a lot about them, but we are confident we can win. I was impressed with how much fitter we were than Liverpool-St Helens last weekend.'
Nathan Sandland-Jones retains his place in the team tomorrow after being an 11th-hour choice last Saturday because of the late arrival of Steve Kelly who starts. Aled Davies drops to the bench in an otherwise unchanged team.