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Basingstoke RFC prepare for crunch trip to Chichester
BASINGSTOKE RFC will travel to Chichester on Saturday looking for revenge – but director of rugby James Croker says they must not let their emotions get the better of them.
Last season’s matches between the two sides were nerve-jangling affairs, with ’Stoke suffering final minute disappointment in both games.
Croker wants his side to use those encounters as motivation for his players but says they must avoid losing their heads against a powerful and experienced Chichester outfit.
“We need to feed off the energy those defeats gave us but we have to be careful it does not boil over because ill-discipline cost us in both games last season,” he explained. “It was a big reason we did not win either game and is an area we need to tighten up on.”
Basingstoke and Chichester are expected to be the main challengers to London One South favourites East Grinstead and the result of Saturday’s game (kick-off 3pm) may prove crucial come the end of the season.
Both sides go into the game full of confidence. Chichester have taken maximum points from their opening three games, scoring more than 30 points each time, while Basingstoke have wracked up 84 points without reply in their last two hours of rugby.
“The league is beginning to take shape and we need to make sure that we continue our run of form,” Croker said. “In the second half against Trojans and throughout the game against Gosport and Fareham, we played attractive, attacking rugby.
“We go into Saturday feeling confident. We know we can score points and we have shored up the defence as well so we just need to get the tactics and selection right.
“It’s the fourth of 28 games so whatever the result on Saturday there will be a long way to go. It will not be season defining, but it is a big match.”
The match will see two very different sides come face to face. Chichester are traditionally strong in the forwards and will look to force Basingstoke back from set-pieces, while ’Stoke’s main threat comes from their explosive back line.
Croker said: “We have got to earn the right to get the ball wide by forcing Chichester back. If we can do that then we have the weapons to hurt them.
“I would back our pack to match them but we need to make sure we maintain our composure and discipline. We must win our own ball and pinch some of theirs and if we do the right things in the right areas we should be alright.”
Croker will be without Martin Wassell, who made an impressive debut in the 53-0 win over Gosport and Fareham last week, but prop Ollie John and winger Gareth Kelly are back in contention.