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Promotion still the target for Basingstoke RFC
BASINGSTOKE RFC director of rugby James Croker insists that his side can overcome their stuttering start and win promotion from London One South.
The Down Grange club have lost two of their opening four matches, going down 38-23 at home to title favourites East Grinstead on the first day of the season and losing 35-28 at promotion rivals Chichester last weekend.
The sit sixth in the table, nine points behind the leaders – but Croker says they are still very much involved in the battle to go up.
“I am still confident that we can win promotion,” he said. “We will continue to take each week as it comes but the aim is to get bonus point wins up until Christmas and then see where we are.
“It is not the end of the world. We are disappointed but the season is only four games old so there is a long way to go. Other sides will drop points. We just need to regroup, refocus and get back to winning ways.”
Croker was left with mixed emotions at the end of the defeat in Sussex after seeing his side turn a 24-6 deficit into a 28-27 lead before conceding a try and a penalty in stoppage time to lose the game.
“We need to play the rugby we are capable of for longer periods in games,” Croker said. “For 15 or 20 minutes in the second half we looked like world beaters but we also gave away soft tries and were a bit naïve at the end.
“If you had told me before the game at Chichester that we would score 28 points, I would have thought that would be enough to win – but it wasn’t because our performance dropped off and we tried to play in the wrong areas.”
Next up for ’Stoke is a home game against Hove on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) and Croker says his side must be at their best to beat a side he saw as dark horses before the season started.
“We beat them twice last season so we are confident but they are a good team and we will need to be on top of our game to get the win and bonus point we want,” he said. “They play a nice brand of rugby and look to stop the play close to the breakdown.
“We will need to get the ball to our runners in wide areas – but I am confident we can do that.”
’Stoke will be without hooker Lloyd Staszkiewcz, but second row Andy Hore is back in contention, while there may be some changes in midfield.
New signing Adam Davies had an excellent game at Chichester, coming on at fly-half to score one try and set up two others. He is expected to be handed the number 10 jersey this week, with Jack Parsons moving to centre.
“Adam is a player I have been after for a while,” Croker added. “We are really pleased he is here because he is a very talented player, who can play scrum-half, fly-half or full-back.
“We have some tough decisions to make this week but are really happy with the depth we have at fly-half now.”