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Crunch time in 'Stoke's battle for promotion
THERE are just five games to go in the London One South season – and Basingstoke RFC are very much in the thick of the race to clinch a play-off place.
’Stoke go into this weekend’s games two points behind Chichester, who currently occupy second spot and the division’s lone play-off place – and the next two rounds of fixtures could turn out to be crucial.
Basingstoke face a trip to Beckenham on Saturday and a home game against Sidcup on March 23, two games they will be confident of taking maximum points from.
Meanwhile, Chichester face a tough trip to fourth-placed Wimbledon on Saturday before hosting runaway leaders East Grinstead in two weeks.
Assuming the games go to form, ’Stoke could find themselves second going into the final three weeks of the season – but Croker says his side must keep their feet on the ground.
“We are reliant on Chichester dropping a point, if not losing, to Wimbledon – and then losing to East Grinstead, but we just need to keep doing what we are doing,” he said.
“We have got our own personal targets, which is what you need to have when there are other games going on that may affect you but you have no control over.
“They are big weeks every week from now until the end of the season and it’s really exciting. After the next couple of games, we will really see how things stand.”
Basingstoke go into Saturday’s game in top form, having won their last seven and 15 of their last 16. They brushed aside mid-table Beckenham when the teams met at Down Grange, winning 65-7 – but Croker expects a much tougher game in Kent.
“We are not expecting to win as easily as we did at home but, if we play with the same attacking potency that we have had of late, then we should be able to get what we need,” he said. “We have to make sure we show them plenty of respect but we know that we can put on a good score if we bring our A game.”
Croker has a selection headache of the good kind this weekend. His only doubt is over winger Karl Buttle, who may miss the game with a stomach strain, but flanker Steve Hicks is back and exciting fly-half Adam Davies is expected to be available.