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'Stoke taking nothing for granted ahead of Beckenham visit
BASINGSTOKE RFC may be on an excellent run at the moment but director of rugby James Croker insists his side cannot afford to take anything for granted.
’Stoke have won their last five games comfortably, securing four-try bonus points every time to move up to third in the London One South table, still in touch with early pacesetters Chichester and East Grinstead.
They are making it look easy – but Croker says that they must remain on their guard if they are to avoid slipping up.
“If the sides in the top four at the moment go out and play their best then there is a slight disparity in the league but getting that consistency of performance is the difficult thing,” he said. “If you fail to do that, anything can happen.
“It is not easy and the league is closer than some of the results suggest. We have just got to concentrate on doing the right things for sustained periods of time.
“The balance for the players is to be super-confident but not complacent. That is what we aim to do with the squad by making sure we recognise what they are doing well, while also pointing out areas for improvement.”
Basingstoke will be looking to secure a sixth consecutive win on Saturday, when they host Beckenham (kick-off 3pm).
The Kent side sit 10th in the table but ended a three-game losing streak by beating Havant 13-8 last week – and Croker wants his side to keep up the pressure ahead of what could be a vital weekend of matches later this month.
“We travel to Sidcup on November 17 and that will be a massive weekend because the current top six all play one another,” he said. “That will be a really exciting week because the top two meet for the first time.
“We need to make sure we get five points against Beckenham so the sides above us go into that weekend knowing that any slip could be capitalised on by us.
“They came to us last year with a big set of forwards so we have to be aware of that. If their coach is able to get his starting 15 out on the pitch, I expect an abrasive, physical game.”
’Stoke will be without injured trio Gareth Kelly, Adam Davies and Matt Guilfoyle, while Matt Horne is set to miss most of November’s games due to work commitments. However, full-back Ash Paterson is back after missing last weekend’s 47-20 win at Cobham.