BURY St Edmunds rugby coach Gavin Hogg has declared tomorrow’s derby clash with Diss as a “must-win” match and insisted his players could handle the pressure.
A bumper crowd is expected at The Haberden for the two sides’ first meeting in three seasons, with ex-Stowmarket player-coach Hogg set to taste his first Bury-Diss derby.
Just one place separate third-placed Bury from fourth-placed Diss in the London One North table ahead of their derby date tomorrow (2.15pm).
Hogg said: “They are only a few miles up the road and quite a few of the players have played against each other right through their youth sections and up to senior rugby.
“We are expecting a very tough game and being a local derby it will add a bit of extra spice to the occasion.
“A lot of people have had this game in their minds for a while, so from our point of view this is a must-win match.
“We would like to go unbeaten up until Christmas to put us in good shape for next year and this is another one we need to win to make sure we do that.”
Bury are currently four points clear of Diss having secured another bonus-point win when on their travels at Hammersmith and Fulham on Saturday — the ninth time Bury have secured a bonus point this season, only bettered by rivals Colchester who Bury travel to on December 17.
“With four or five teams in the mix this season, it’s going to be a very close league and could come down to bonus points or even points difference,” added Hogg. “It’s important we keep the scoreboard ticking over at all times, even if we have the game won.”
Diss are set to bring a strong following with them to The Haberden and Michael Robinson, chairman of Bury’s playing committee, believes there could be a real “battle of the crowds” as to who cheers on their team the loudest.
There will also be an added link to the old rivalry this year, with Diss now coached by Phil Sharpe, who played for Bury for a decade in the 90s and 00s.
Robinson said: “I played with Phil when he was here — he played some games in the first team and some in the second team when I was second-team captain.
“They will be a very switched on team and there is no doubt he will be looking to prove a point by beating his old club.”
Centres Kenny Eggars and Tim Mann could return from injury and unavailability respectively.
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