Basingstoke RFC must beat East Grinstead in their final game of the season to have any chance of avoiding relegation

Freddie Gleadowe will return for Basingstoke this weekend.

Freddie Gleadowe will return for Basingstoke this weekend. Buy this photo

First published in Sport by , Sports Reporter

ONLY victory in their final league game will do for Basingstoke RFC, if they are to stand any chance of avoiding relegation from National League Three London.

Even then, they still have to hope Barnes suffer defeat at Westcombe Park as well, on the last day of the season.

Last weekend, ’Stoke slipped into the bottom three for the first time since the early part of the campaign, after a 41-32 defeat at Tonbridge Juddians.

Meanwhile, Barnes, victors at Down Grange a fortnight ago, climbed out of the drop-zone thanks to a 31-22 win against Guernsey.

This Saturday (kick-off 3pm), Basingstoke entertain third-placed East Grinstead.

Barnes, who now have a three point advantage over ’Stoke, have the easier-looking fixture, as they travel to 10th-placed Westcombe Park.

Despite the odds being stacked against them, ’Stoke will give it their best shot for one final 80 minutes of league rugby this season.

Challenge Basingstoke RFC’s director of rugby James Croker believes his team are up for the challenge.

He said: “We know what we have to do and then we just have to hope that the rugby gods are on our side.

“Barnes have invested heavily in making sure they stay up. That is the sort of thing we are up against playing at this level.”

Turning his attention to Saturday’s opposition, Croker is able to take heart from past results.

He said: “Last year, we lost to Grinstead on the opening day and then drew with them at the end.

“This year we lost to them in the first game, but since then both sides have changed so much.”

’Stoke will be boosted by the return of captain Freddie Gleadowe from injury and he is sure to inspire others around him.

Croker said: “We are going to have to make some tough decisions on selection this week as I felt every guy did really well at Tonbridge.

“I know the team I put out will give their all and hope we will have the backing of the town in what is a big game for us.”

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