REVENGE and securing vital points will be the twin aims of Basingstoke RFC when CS Rugby arrive at Down Grange on Saturday afternoon.
Earlier in the season, ’Stoke looked to be heading for their fourth win on the trot when they led 38-37 at Chiswick, only for their hopes to be dashed by two late tries.
Now, it’s their chance for payback – and Basingstoke RFC’s director of rugby James Croker believes his side are up for the challenge.
He said: “We had our chances to win at their place until the last three minutes. We know they will come here and play a strong attacking style, which we are ready to stop.”
A high-scoring encounter is expected at Down Grange, but ’Stoke will want to end up on the right side of the scoreline as in the first meeting at Chiswick in November, they lost 51-38.
The man they will have to stop is the Stags’ fly-half Scott Hadden, the son of former Scotland coach Frank Hadden.
Basingstoke RFC director of rugby James Croker said: “He is a lovely player and a key man for them as they play a very attractive style of rugby.
“We matched them last time until the end of the game, I think we have learnt from the experience and this time we are at home.”
Last weekend, CS enjoyed a 49-7 win over lowly Thurrock, which snapped a three game losing streak and moved them up to eighth in the table.
’Stoke will welcome back Ryan Davis to their line-up for the visit of the London side, but are forced to make changes as Chris Kiernan, who scored a try in the reverse fixture, and Jake Henderson are unavailable.
Croker believes his side need three more wins to be safe and with lowly Barnes and Barking still to travel to Down Grange, on paper, the CS Rugby game is the third-easiest home fixture left for his side.
Croker said: “It was disappointing that we did not play at Westcombe Park last Saturday, but the chasing pack all lost, so we now have a game in hand on Barnes.
“If we can beat CS, it means Barnes will come here knowing they have to win.
“All the pressure will be on them and their next three games are against the top three teams.”
Visit basingstokegazette.co.uk/sport for live text coverage from Down Grange on Saturday afternoon.