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Croker: Only maximum points will do against Cobham
BASINGSTOKE RFC director of rugby James Croker says that nothing short of a bonus point victory will suffice as his side return to London One South action at home to Cobham on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
’Stoke go into this weekend’s games two points behind second-placed Chichester – but they face some difficult fixtures in the coming weeks.
The Sussex side travel to Wimbledon next Saturday before hosting runaway leaders East Grinstead on March 23, two games that could give Basingstoke a chance to bridge the gap.
However, Chichester are at home to struggling Old Colfeians this weekend and are almost certain to emerge with five points, making it vital for ’Stoke to take maximum points from their game against mid-table Cobham.
Croker said: “Anything less than a bonus-point win would be a disappointment but the players’ expectations are just as high and they know what to do.
“There are six games left and we have positioned ourselves nicely. Our job now is to apply pressure to Chichester. After this week, the next two should be telling. We just have to go out, do what we have to do and see where it takes us.”
Basingstoke go into the game having won their last six and 14 of their last 15 in the league, while Cobham have lost six of their last eight and went down 47-20 when the sides met earlier in the season.
“Cobham are one of those teams who seem to raise their game for the big teams,” Croker added. “We need to be aware of that, win our own ball and settle into a good pattern and tempo.
“We have to be patient, particularly in the strike zones, to make sure we turn possession into points. Cobham are strong in broken field and we cannot afford to make mistakes.
“We just have to be sensible and not give away possession. If we do that, we will do well.”
Basingstoke will be without flanker Steve Hicks, while fly-half Adam Davies could also miss out due to work commitments. With Jack Parsons having left for an extended stay in Australia, either Ashley Paterson or Andy Flower could be asked to take the number 10 shirt.
Elsewhere, Croker has some difficult decisions to make, particularly in the second row and at hooker, where several players are competing for the starting spots.
“Selection is really difficult in certain areas at the moment because everyone is playing so well,” he said. “Going into the business end of the season, it’s important that players know what they need to do when they are in and out of the team so there will not be any rotation. If you play well then you will keep the shirt.”