IT IS crunch time for Basingstoke RFC as they seek to avoid getting dragged into a relegation dogfight.
Victory against visiting Barnes on Saturday will ease ’Stoke’s fears of being sucked into an end-of-season battle to beat the drop from National League Three London.
The support from home fans will be crucial, and Basingstoke RFC director of rugby James Croker is calling on people to turn out in force and back his side at Down Grange.
Croker said: “The game is being sponsored by the Champion Group, and they will bring a big crowd. We want the fans to be the 16th man for us and cheer the boys on.”
With three games remaining in the league season, ’Stoke are currently six points ahead of visiting Barnes, and with five points up for grabs for a bonus point win, there is all to play for.
Croker believes he will get the response he requires from his players in Saturday’s game.
Last weekend, ’Stoke suffered a 67-19 defeat at the hands of home side Tring and the visiting players left the field gutted.
Croker said: “Everything went Tring’s way in the game. It was all summed up for me when a kick off the side of a boot was caught by a winger for a try.
“That said we did not show-up until the second-half. The players now want to put things right and are chomping at the bit to get out there again.”
When ’Stoke played Barnes earlier in the season they did not play well and lost 31-17.
The London side will be looking for the double in what is expected to be a battle royal at Down Grange.
Croker does not fear the visitors and said: “We will show them respect, but they have the third worst record in this division for a reason.
“They have a decent pack, but we want to get at them from the start and put our stamp on the game.”
Captain Freddie Gleadowe is set to return for the clash, but ‘Stoke will have to wait on the fitness of fly half Adam Davies along with Andy Hore and Guy Wilkinson, the last two picked up injuries in the defeat at Tring.
Whatever 15 take to the field this Saturday, you can be sure they will do all they can to get ’Stoke the victory they so deeply desire.